Pacers’ Carlisle returns to Dallas; coached Mavs 13 seasons
DALLAS (AP) — Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle returned to Dallas on Saturday night for the first time since resigning last summer following 13 seasons as Mavericks coach, which included leading the franchise to its only NBA championship to date in 2011.
“It’s a little bit of an unusual day, but it’s great to be back,” Carlisle, 62, said before the Pacers’ 132-105 loss. Because his family still lives in the Dallas area, it was also a chance to visit at home as well as see people in the organization who meant a lot to him.
The Mavericks played a video tribute to Carlisle before the game and he was given a standing ovation. Carlisle, tears streaming down his face, then waved to the fans and saluted Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Carlisle resigned June 16, 10 days after Dallas lost its first-round playoff series to the Los Angeles Clippers for the second straight year and one day after the resignation of longtime team executive Donnie Nelson. In making his announcement, Carlisle said his departure was solely his decision.
A week later, Carlisle was hired by the Pacers to begin his second stint coaching them. He coached Indiana for four seasons, 2003-04 through 2006-07. His first Pacers team led the NBA in wins with 61 but lost the Eastern Conference finals to Detroit. His 199 Indiana wins going into Saturday are second to the 250 of Frank Vogel, now coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Carlisle cited his relationship with Nelson as being “very, very special.”
Carlisle recommended Jason Kidd, who played on the Mavericks’ championship team, to follow him as Dallas’ coach.
“He’s done a tremendous job,” Carlisle said. “His history here, as a player who was drafted here, a Hall of Fame player on a championship team here, I know the kind of warrior he is when it comes to winning and how smart he is. They’re a major threat in the West.”
“He helped all of us achieve that one goal that we play for, and that was to win a championship,” Kidd said. “Set the bar high for the next coach or coaches.”
Carlisle led the Mavericks to the playoffs nine times and won two Southwest Division titles in addition to the 2011 championship, when Dallas won the Finals in six games over the Miami Heat behind Dirk Nowitzki. He owns the franchise records for career regular-season games coached (1,033) and wins (555).
The game Saturday was the second and last this season between the inter-conference teams. When Dallas visited Indiana on Dec. 10, Carlisle tested positive for COVID-19 the day before and had to quarantine. The Pacers won 106-93 under assistant coach Lloyd Pierce.
Carlisle’s first game as an NBA coach was in Dallas, coaching the Detroit Pistons in October 2001, in the inaugural game played at American Airlines Center.
“I do remember this other locker room,” he said.
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