A video tribute to fired coach Dwane Casey on his return to Toronto earned a standing ovation from Raptors fans Wednesday night — then Casey’s Detroit Pistons went on to come back and stun his former team with a buzzer-beater.
When Pistons swingman Reggie Bullock hit a floater as time ran out to secure a 106-104 win, Casey thrust his arms in the air and jumped onto the court. The coach was grabbed and hugged and slapped by his players.
“They were pulling for me,” Casey said. “I appreciate that tremendously. It’s a players league. It’s about the players — it’s not about coaching. But again, it’s about human beings. And those human beings, they felt for me. Telling me — I was trying to deflect it as much as they could, but you know, Blake [Griffin] was the first one. He said, ‘This is a great win for you, Coach.’ And that means something, when your star player comes to you and tells you that, and other players join in.”
The Pistons had come from 19 points down to win their third game in their past four outings.
“I felt good for the players because they kept scrapping, and that’s who we are,” Casey said.
Casey, 61, was fired by Toronto just days after the Raptors were ousted from the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third consecutive season.
After leading Toronto to a team-record 59 wins and the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season, Casey also was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year — after his firing.
Casey said that while he did not see the video tribute — Griffin told him about it — he appreciated the gesture.