A franchise record in wins and points during the regular season, an Atlantic Division title, and the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference was good enough to award Dwane Casey the highest of coaching honors. It apparently just wasn’t good enough to keep him around in Toronto.
In a possibly hilarious and quite awkward twist, Casey, who was recently fired by the Raptors, won the NBA Coach of the Year on Monday night over Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens at the NBA Awards in Los Angeles.
Sure, Houston Rockets guard James Harden winning the Most Valuable Player award, Clippers guard Lou Williams tabbed as Sixth Man of the Year, and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons taking home the Rookie of the Year honors settled some late-season debates, but the night absolutely belonged to Casey.
After guiding Toronto to a 59-23 record in his seventh season with the organization in 2017-18, and becoming the first Raptors coach to be at the helm of the NBA All-Star Game, Casey was fired following a Eastern Conference semifinals sweep to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Needless to say, Casey, who was recently hired and signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Pistons, could have thrown as much shade as he wanted to during his speech, but he took a much different approach.
It was pure class, giving praise to his past players, which include DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Sixth Man candidate Fred VanVleet, and to Suns owner Tom Gores.
Oddly enough, Casey isn’t the first coach to be fired after winning NBA’s Coach of the Year. George Karl was fired from the Denver Nuggets in 2013 after earning the distinction.
No matter the history or what the future may hold, Casey, who also earned the NBCA Coach of the Year, certainly got the last laugh out the door with the Toronto Raptors this off-season and on his way to new beginnings with the Pistons.