Dwane Casey won the NBA Coach of the Year award on Monday night despite getting fired by the Toronto Raptors earlier in the off-season.
Casey beat out Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens for the honour.
The 61-year-old Casey was the most successful coach in Raptors history, but was fired on May 11, five days after being nominated for the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. He signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Pistons on June 11 to become their new bench boss.
Casey had a lengthy list of people he thanked on stage at the NBA Awards, including his wife Brenda and their children Zachary and Justine, as well as the Raptors players.
“All the players in Toronto in the past four or five years,” said Casey, who led the Raptors to a franchise-best 59 wins this season to earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time ever. “DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, all the core guys that built the program to where it is today.
“Finishing with the 59 wins this year, franchise record, those guys are four-time all-stars, Olympians, I’m so proud of them.”
Casey was fired after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept Toronto out of the Eastern Conference semifinal for the second straight year.
He’s also the 2018 recipient of the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award, which is handed out by the NBA Coaches Association. That honour is separate from the league’s coach of the year award.
On Monday, Casey acknowledged the irony of being fired a day after being recognized by his peers for his accomplishments.
“When you get fired, which I did recently, I don’t know if you knew that or not, after winning coach of the year,” said Casey to laughs from the crowd. “You always doubt yourself a little bit. You think ‘OK, can I do this? Do I want to do this again?’
“But then I interviewed with Tom Gores, the owner of the Detroit Pistons. He and I connected and he’s given me an opportunity that I’m very appreciative of. For someone to believe in you, that’s all you want as a player and as a coach.”
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet was also nominated for an award, but missed out on being named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, losing to former Toronto player Lou Williams.
The Los Angeles Clippers guard became the first player to average at least 20 points for the first time in his 13th season or later. He led the league in fourth-quarter points and scoring average.