Former Pacers coach, Grizzlies executive Dick Versace dies at 81

Dick Versace coaches Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics
Dick Raphael/Getty Images

Once described as an “intellectual gym rat,” Dick Versace has died at 81.

While attending a coaching clinic in Cleveland as a Michigan State University assistant, Versace was assigned to room with University of Pennsylvania coach Chuck Daly. They were reading the same book at the time and struck a friendship. Daly became the all-time great coach of the Detroit Pistons. Bradley flourished at Bradley University, but when the NCAA came poking around, he jumped to the Pistons as an assistant to Daly.

He impressed the Indiana Pacers by pulling double duty as an assistant coach and advanced scout with Detroit. The Pacers hired him as their fourth head coach during the 1988-89 season.

Versace led Indiana to a 42-40 record in 1989-90 – the Pacers’ best season in nearly a decade. But that was his only full season as an NBA head coach. They fired him after a 9-16 start the next year.

Versace then worked in television as a basketball analyst for TNT and NBC Chicago.

The Vancouver Grizzlies hired Versace as team president in 2000. After moving to Memphis, the franchise hired Jerry West over him. Versace remained on as general manager a few more years.