John Chaney passes away at age 89

Five Sweet 16s. Six Atlantic-10 Conference Championships. 1988 AP Coach of the Year. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer. Temple legend. Big Five Legend. Basketball Legend. John Chaney accomplished so much and more in his time on North Broad coaching Temple’s men’s basketball team from 1982-2006. 

It really is hard to put into words not only what Chaney meant to the Temple community, but to the Philadelphia community as a whole. 

On Friday morning, the Temple community lost that legend. Chaney passed away at the age of 89 due to a short illness. 

Chaney was one of the all time great characters that the sport of basketball has seen. It never took much for Chaney to lose his cool at an opposing coach or his players, but it also never took much to make his break out in laughter. 

The relationship between Chaney and current Temple coach Aaron McKie is a great example of that. 

“Coach Chaney was like a father to me,” said current Temple men’s basketball coach Aaron McKie. “He taught not just me, but all of his players more than just how to succeed in basketball.  He taught us life lessons to make us better individuals off the court.  I owe so much to him.  He made me the man I am today.”

McKie, who started 92 games at Temple and averaged 17.9 points per game during his career, was always shown tough love from Chaney, but it worked out for the best. 

During a 1994 first round NCAA Tournament game against Drexel, McKie was scoreless at halftime and even though Temple held the lead, Chaney was furious with McKie. 

“I couldn’t wait until we got into the locker room because I was going to kill him,” Chaney said. “I pulled him aside and said, ‘You haven’t scored a basket.’ … When I called on him to shoot, I needed him to shoot. I told him I was setting it up for him to score the first five possessions of the second half. If he didn’t, I was going to take him out of the game.” 

“That’s leadership,” McKie added. “It can be unpopular. It can uncomfortable. But when you want to win, that’s what’s needed, and as a team that should be the ultimate goal. You need somebody to hold people accountable.”

McKie ended up scoring 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting and Temple advanced to the next round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Disciple. Toughness. Those are the key words when it comes to Chaney’s coaching tenure. 

Yet there’s more. Success. Love. Accountability. Passion. Leadership. That’s what made John Chaney great.  

Philadelphia legend. RIP Coach Chaney, and thank you. 

“John Chaney was more than just a Hall of Fame Basketball coach.  He was a Hall of Fame In life,” extolled Dunphy. “He touched countless lives, including my own.  I will miss him dearly and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”

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