Originally created 05/08/02

Rick Carlisle wins NBA Coach of Year



AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Rick Carlisle won the NBA Coach of the Year award on Tuesday after leading the Detroit Pistons to the Central Division title in his first year with the team.

Carlisle led Detroit to 50 wins - 18 more than last season - and its first division title since 1990. He played in the league for five seasons and was an assistant coach for 11 before getting his first head coaching job this season.

"This isn't an award for me. This is an award for our franchise," Carlisle said. "I'm humbled to win this and be among this type of basketball royalty, but I couldn't have done it without the players and the staff and their hard work."

The Pistons lead the Boston Celtics 1-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. Game 2 is Wednesday.

Detroit started 14-6, then lost 13 of 16 games, before bouncing back and finishing the season with a 33-13 run.

His honor is the latest for the Pistons. Ben Wallace was the Defensive Player of the Year and a third-team All-NBA choice, while Corliss Williamson was the top sixth man. Cliff Robinson was voted to the second-team All-Defense team, and Zeljko Rebraca made the second-team All-Rookie team.

The last Pistons coach to win the award was Ray Scott in the 1973-74 season.

Team president Joe Dumars hired Carlisle to stabilize a situation that saw five coaches come and go since Chuck Daly left in 1992.

Carlisle was an assistant under Daly in New Jersey.

"I started watching Rick's team early in the season," Daly said Tuesday. "And I saw a lot of good things that kept getting better."