Video tribute to Dwane Casey when returning to Toronto got a standing ovation on Raptors fans on Wednesdays – then Casey Detroit Pistons kept coming back and amazed at his former team's buzzer striker.
When Pistons swingman Reggie Bullock hit the clock when it was time to secure a 106-104 victory, Casey pushed his hand in the air and jumped to the right. The coach grabbed and hugged and hit the players.
"They pulled me," Casey said. "I appreciate it enormously, it's a player's league, it's about players – it's not about coaching, but it's about people, and the people who felt like me told me – I tried to bend it as much as they could but you know Blake [Griffin] was the first. He said: "This is a great victory, coach." And this means something when a star player comes to you and tells you, and other players come in. "
Pistons had gone 19 points down to win the third game in the last four rounds.
"I felt good about the players because they thought it was a scrap, and that's who we are," Casey said.
Casey, 61, shot Toronto just days after the Raptors had been eliminated from the playoffs for Cleveland Cavaliers for the third consecutive season.
Leading Toronto's team record for 59 wins and up seed at the Eastern Conference last season, Casey was also named the NBA's Coach of the Year – after shooting.
Casey said that although he did not see a video award – Griffin told him – he understood the gesture.