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Don Casey

Sport: Basketball

Born: June 17, 1937

Town: Collingswood

Lawrence Donald Casey was born June 17, 1937 in Collingswood. Don played basketball for the Camden Catholic basketball team in the 1950s and attended Temple, but did not make the varisty. He nevertheless set his sights on a career in basketball and slowly made his way up the coaching ladder. Don became head coach at Bishop Esutace Prep in Pennsauken, and the Crusaders won state titles in 1961 and 1962. As a teenager, Don had faced some of the region’s top players on the public courts in Audubon. At Bishop Eustace he encouraged his best players to do the same. One of the players who benefitted from this advice was Bill Melchionni.

During his years at Eustace, Don spent a lot of time across the river picking the brains of college coaches Jack Ramsey, Harry Litwack and Jack McCloskey. He soaked up their wisdom and tried their ideas on his own kid.

From 1973–74 to 1981–82, Don coached at Temple University. The Owls won three East Coast Conference regular season titles and made the NCAA Tournament draw in 1979, when they were a Top 20 team. Point guard Ricky Reed was the Owls’ star. They lost in the first round to Lou Carnesecca’s St. John’s Redmen. Don;s career mark at his alma mater was 151–94. Temple also went to three NITs during Don’s tenure.

The NBA took notice and Don was hired in 1982 by the Bulls as an assistant. He moved over to the Clippers and also coached a year in Italy during the 1980s. Midway through the 1988–89 season, he replaced Gene Shue and coached the Clippers the following season, finishing 30-–52. Los Angeles let Don go after the season and he was snapped up by the Celtics. He worked as an assistant to Chris Ford and ML Carr for six seasons before taking a job with the “hometown” New Jersey Nets in 1996. During his time in Boston Don went 2-6 while filling in for Ford during a hospitalization.

Don replaced head coach John Calipari after a disastrous 3–17 to start to the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season. New Jersey went 13–17 the rest of the way, earning Don the head coaching job the following season. The Nets went 31–51 and Don was replaced after the season by Byron Scott.

After his coaching career, Don devoted himself to his passion for promoting physical fitness and healthy eating. He served as VP of the President’s Council for Physical Fitness. In 2018, Don was inducted into the Temple Hall of Fame. He went in along with gymnast Roxanne Pierce, another New Jersey native, and his star player, Ricky Reed.


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