SALT LAKE CITY — Toronto coach Dwane Casey, currently in his fourth season as a head coach, admitted Friday he almost joined a hospital company rather than joining the coaching ranks coming out of Kentucky in the late 1970s.
Casey was a backup point guard on coach Joe B. Hall’s UK team that posted a 30-2 record on the way to winning the 1978 NCAA championship.
The Morganfield, Ky., native spoke fondly of his days playing for the Wildcats, who beat Duke in the ’78 finals.
But he also said he had no intention of becoming a coach.
“I wasn’t going to be a coach,” he said. “My senior year I walked into coach Hall’s office and I was lost. There was a company called Humana and a guy named Wendell Cherry was the owner. He was a Kentucky grad and he wanted to hire me.”
Casey said he interviewed with the company and was close to accepting the job offer when he stopped by Hall’s office for a conversation.
“I came back (and) coach Hall said, ‘You don’t really want got into the hospital business, do you,’” Casey explained. “I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you stay here and be a (graduate) assistant?’”
That’s how Casey got his start in the coaching business, which eventually led him to more than 17 seasons in the NBA, as an assistant, an associate head coach and a head coach.
He was an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks in 2006, when they reached the finals and lost to Miami, and in 2011 when they beat the Heat.
Friday’s game against the Jazz may have been a low point in Casey’s coaching career. Utah came back from a 10-point deficit to win 131-99.
“I thought we split apart and didn’t stay together,” he said.
Jazz 131, Raptors 99
• BEST PLAY: After spending time discussing how they’re might connect, Jeremy Evans and Jamaal Tinsley finally do so with 8:34 left in the fourth on a fastbreak. Tinsley fires a bounce pass, Evans catches and skies in for a tomahawk dunk.
• BEST LINE: Randy Foye played only 23 minutes but went 5-for-11 from the field, hit three 3-pointers and had three blocked shots from the shooting guard position. He finished with 13 points.
• KEY STAT: Utah shot a sizzling 54 percent from the field and hit 5-for-10 from behind the 3-point line in the decisive second quarter, outscoring the Raptors 38-23.
• SIDELINE MOMENT: Herriman little league football star Samantha Gordon, 9, who made national news as a YouTube video sensation, was at Friday’s game with her teammates. They gathered around to get autographs from Jazz players before the game.
• ETC.: The Jazz hit 13 3-pointers, one shy of their season-high mark, which they set in a triple-overtime win at Toronto on Nov. 12. The franchise high for 3s in a game is 15. … Eight Jazz players scored in double figures. … Utah recorded 31 assists on 45 made baskets. … The Raptors shot just 40 percent for the game and had 15 turnovers, which led to 22 Jazz points.