LOGAN – In his second year as head basketball coach at Grace, Idaho high school, Dick Motta won the state championship. Nine years later he was named the head coach of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.
<p class=”p2″>Not bad for a man who never played the sport in high school or college.
<p class=”p2″>Tuesday Motta, who lives in Logan, spoke to the Cache Chamber of Commerce Third Tuesday luncheon not only in his role as a local business owner but as a veteran of 25 seasons as a head coach in professional basketball.
<p class=”p2″>He and his wife Jan own the Bluebird Candy Company and the Bluebird Inn Bed and Breakfast at Bear Lake.
<p class=”p2″>Motta, 82, is a USU graduate who began coaching in the Idaho high school ranks where he took Grace High to two straight state championship games, winning the second one in 1959 in what he called his greatest thrill as a coach.
<p class=”p2″>He was named the head coach at Weber Junior College and he later took the Wildcats into basketball competition as a four-year school and during his entire term in Ogden enjoyed remarkable success.
<p class=”p2″>It was his winning record at Weber State that drew the attention of the Chicago Bulls, an expansion team in the NBA, and they named him their head coach in 1968 at the age of 37.
<p class=”p2″>He coached the Bulls for eight seasons, the Washington Bullets for four years (winning the NBA title in 1978), the Dallas Mavericks for nine seasons plus he spent three seasons in Sacramento as the Kings head coach and a year in Denver.
<p class=”p2″>He still ranks in the NBA’s all time top 10 in coaching victories with 935.
<p class=”p2″>He told the Chamber of Commerce gathering his “turning point” in coaching came with the state championship win at Grace. It gave him the confirming confidence that he could coach the game of basketball.
<p class=”p2″>“Of those players on that team, 14 of the 15 are still alive. They have become like my children, my brothers.”
<p class=”p2″>He said the group gets together every two years.
<p class=”p2″>He talked about the Bulls epic 7-game series in the playoffs against Jerry West and the Los Angeles Lakers.
<p class=”p2″>He explained his philosophy of coaching which every year included a list of rules established, and signed by, everyone involved.
<p class=”p2″>Motta did not play high school basketball at Jordan High in the Salt Lake Valley and when he was cut after a tryout for the USU team he asked coach ‘Cec’ Baker why he cut him.
<p class=”p2″>“You’re too small,” said Baker. ”Why don’t you try coaching.”
<p class=”p2″>Motta told the Chamber crowd he took his USU degree to that first coaching job in Grace and there in his very first 7th grade class was Phil Johnson, who played for him at Grace and at Weber Junior College, and was later his assistant coach at Weber and with the Bulls.
<p class=”p2″>Johnson later became an NBA head coach and for 23 seasons was Jerry Sloan’s top assistant with the Utah Jazz. Both Motta (1971) and Johnson (1975) won “NBA Coach of the Year” awards during their careers.