Personal information
Born(1940-04-16)April 16, 1940
Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedFebruary 25, 2022(2022-02-25) (aged 81)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Listed weight195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High schoolGordon Tech
(Chicago, Illinois)
CollegeWisconsin
Coaching career1964–1998
Career history
As coach:
1965–1969St. Joseph HS
1969–1973Gordon Tech
1973–1974Saint Louis (assistant)
1974–1977Michigan State (assistant)
1977-1978[Jackson Community College, MI men’s basketball coach]
1978–1986Bradley
19861988Detroit Pistons (assistant)
19881990Indiana Pacers
19961998Milwaukee Bucks (assistant)
Career highlights and awards

Richard Patrick Versace (April 16, 1940 – February 25, 2022) was an American basketball coach and executive. He was also the first American of Puerto Rican descent to have coached a National Basketball Association (NBA) team.[1]

Early life

Versace was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His parents were Colonel Humbert Joseph Versace, an Italian American and Marie Teresa Rios, a Puerto Rican-Irish American author. The 1960s television sitcom The Flying Nun was based on one of her books. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, though he did not play basketball.[2]

Versace coached at the high school and collegiate level and in the NBA. Versace coached at St. Joseph High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Gordon Tech in Chicago. Oddly, his first coaching position after college was at Forrest-Strawn- Wing High School in the small Central Illinois community of Forrest during the years of 1964 and 1965. The odd thing being that he was the head football coach. He led the team to an 8-1 record and a Vermilion Valley Conference championship. He coached junior varsity basketball that winter. Versace began his college coaching career at St. Louis University in 1973, after compiling a 204-66 record at the high school coaching level. He then moved to Michigan State University, where he was heavily involved in the recruitment of Magic Johnson. Versace's first head coaching assignment was at the Jackson Community College in 1976. In the early 1980s, he was head men's basketball coach at Bradley University, where he led the team to the 1982 NIT championship. In the 1985-86 season, he was named National College Coach of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers' Association. That year, his Bradley Braves went 32-3 and were ranked as high as #7 in the nation during the season. His back court players included future NBA star Hersey Hawkins and future Bradley Head Coach Jim Les.

College

Versace became the head coach at Bradley University in 1978 and remained at Bradley until 1986. In his second season at Bradley the team finished first in the Missouri Valley Conference and qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Losing in the first round to Texas A&M. In 1981-82 Bradley finished first in the MVC but lost in the semifinals of the MVC tournament. They were not selected to the NCAA tournament but won the NIT championship. In Versace’s final season at Bradley they finished 32-3 for the season and 16-0 in the MVC. Losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament to eventual champion Louisville.

Season-by-season results

Statistics overview
Season Coach Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Dick Versace (Missouri Valley Conference) (1978–1986)
1978–79 Bradley 9–17 3–13 T–8th
1979–80 Bradley 23–10 13–3 1st NCAA first round
1980–81 Bradley 18–9 10–6 T–4th
1981–82 Bradley 26–10 13–3 1st NIT champions
1982–83 Bradley 16–13 10–8 5th
1983–84 Bradley 15–13 7–9 T–5th
1984–85 Bradley 17–13 9–7 T–4th
1985–86 Bradley 32–3 16–0 1st NCAA second round
Bradley: 156–88 (.639) 81–49
Total: 156–88 (.639)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

NBA

He later served as an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons under head coach Chuck Daly. Versace then became head coach of the Indiana Pacers for two years, from 1988 through 1990. After leaving the Pacers job, Versace became a sportscaster on TNT and on WMAQ TV in Chicago. Versace served as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1997-98 season.

In 1999, Versace was named President of Basketball Operations for the then-Vancouver Grizzlies. After Versace's first season in Vancouver, the Grizzlies were relocated and became the Memphis Grizzlies. And in 2002, the Grizzlies hired NBA legend Jerry West as President of Basketball Operations, and Versace assumed the role of General Manager and remained with the team through the end of the 2004-2005 season. Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Versace worked for Michael Heisley's acquisition team as Versace oversaw Heisley's pursuit and ultimate purchase of the Vancouver Grizzlies.

Later years

On October 8, 2007, Versace announced that he would run as a Democratic Party candidate for Illinois' 18th Congressional District seat, then held by Republican Congressman Ray LaHood who was retiring. On December 8, 2007, however, Versace announced that he would not be running due to "unforeseen personal circumstances."[3]

Personal life and death

Versace was the brother of Vietnam War posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Rocky Versace, who was executed by the Viet Cong while a Prisoner of War in 1965.[4] He had two other brothers, Dr. Stephen Versace (his twin) and Michael Versace Rios, and a sister, Trilby Versace. Versace was divorced and had two children, David and Julie. He died on February 25, 2022, at the age of 81.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ "A character takes a shot at politics". Los Angeles Times. November 16, 2007.
  2. ^ The Sporting News Official NBA Register 1989–90. St. Louis, Missouri: Sporting News. 1989. p. 288. ISBN 0-89204-328-8.
  3. ^ Rothert, Brenda (December 8, 2007). "Versace 'extremely disappointed' to end congressional run". The Daily Register.
  4. ^ "Humbert Roque "Rocky" Versace - 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)". somf.org. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  5. ^ "Former Pacers coach Dick Versace dies at 81". The Indianapolis Star. February 26, 2022.