The Toronto Raptors' first-ever head coach Brendan Malone has died. He was 81.
The Denver Nuggets announced his passing on social media Tuesday. The cause of death was not released.
"Coach Brendan Malone was a great man who left behind a great legacy in the world of basketball, but he will be remembered even more for the amazing husband, father, son and grandfather that he was and the profound impact he had on the friends, family and colleagues who were lucky enough to know him," the Nuggets said in a statement.
"Our thoughts are with the entire Malone family and all of Brendan's loved ones who are feeling this loss today."
Malone, the father of current Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, led the Raptors in their inaugural season in 1995-96. Denver announced Mike Malone would not be with the team for its pre-season game Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns following the news.
Toronto finished 21-61 that season, which included a memorable win over the eventual champion Chicago Bulls, who finished with a league-leading 72-10 record. That stood as the best regular-season record in NBA history until the Golden State Warriors went 73-9 in 2015-16.
The Raptors were Malone's first head coaching job in the NBA, having previously been an assistant with the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons.
"The Toronto Raptors organization is saddened by the passing of Brendan Malone, who served as our head coach during the team's inaugural season in 1995-96, winning a special place in our history and our hearts," the team said in a statement.
"His contributions to the game will forever be remembered, and we offer our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues."
He got his start with the Knick as an assistant coach in 1986 after coaching in the NCAA ranks with Fordham, Yale, Syracuse and Rhode Island since 1976. He helped guide the Knicks to a Finals appearance in 1999 after rejoining the team's coaching staff following his one-year stint in Toronto.
He won two NBA titles with the Pistons in 1989 and 1990, then-famously known as the "Bad Boys" and imposing the "Jordan Rules," used to try and contain all-time great Michael Jordan.
"The Detroit Pistons mourn the passing of former assistant coach Brendan Malone — who graced the coaching bench during two Pistons basketball eras under Chuck Daly and Stan Van Gundy. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time," the team said in a statement.
He also held assistant coaching jobs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, — also serving as interim head coach in 2004-05 — Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings. He hadn't coached since 2016, last being with Detroit.
"We are saddened to learn of the passing of longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone. Brendan served on the Magic's coaching staff from 2007-12, helping Orlando reach the NBA Finals in 2009," the Magic said in a statement.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the entire Malone family."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 10, 2023.
The Canadian Press