Former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey earns Coach of the Year honors at NBA Awards.
Things got a bit awkward at the NBA Awards on Monday night. After a relatively quiet night with the expected winners, Dwane Casey was named Coach of the Year. It was a well-deserved honor as Casey led the Toronto Raptors to 59 wins and the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The only problem?
The Raptors fired Casey following their second-round sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Casey handled the situation with class during his acceptance speech. He gave the longest speech of the night thus far, giving credit to all of his players in Toronto, including core guys Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas. He also thanked just about every coach who he’s worked with during his time in the NBA, including George Karl and Rick Carlisle. Finally, he did mention his firing and doubting himself following the dismissal, but ended by saying he’s looking forward to working as the new coach of the Detroit Pistons.
Casey was never going to outright throw the Raptors under the bus, but he did say he appreciates having an owner “believing in him and trusting in him” in Detroit. Make of that what you will.
Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics and Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz were also nominated for the award.
Throughout the regular season, Casey was widely praised for changing the culture in Toronto. He got Lowry and DeRozan to play a completely different game from previous seasons, getting them to buy in to a larger team concept. He transformed the Raptors bench into the most feared second unit in the league.
His firing following the season didn’t come as a big surprise after the four-game sweep, but it should not take away from what he accomplished during the 82-game season.