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Former Trail Blazers coach Mike Schuler dies at 81

Schuler was the NBA Coach of the Year in 1987. He coached the Blazers team led by Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Kevin Duckworth from 1987 to 1989.
Credit: Portland Trail Blazers
Mike Schuler coached the Portland Trail Blazers from 1987 to 1989.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Mike Schuler, who coached the Portland Trail Blazers from 1987 to 1989, has died, the team announced Wednesday. Schuler died on June 28. He was 81 years old.

Schuler was hired by the Blazers in May 1986, replacing Hall of Fame head coach Jack Ramsay. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in his first season with the Blazers, coaching the beloved Blazers team led by Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Kevin Duckworth to 49 wins.

He had regular-season success with the team, winning 49 games in 1987 and 53 in 1988, but the team lost in the first round of the playoffs both seasons. Amid reports of team dissension, Schuler was let go 47 games into the 1989 season and replaced by Rick Adelman, who helped lead the Blazers to the NBA finals in two of the next three seasons.

Porter remembered Schuler as a "terrific coach."

"I had the pleasure of being both coached by Mike and coaching alongside him later in my career," Porter said in a press release. "Mike was a terrific coach and had a great intensity about his coaching style with a focus on bringing out the best in his players. From a colleague standpoint, I was extremely grateful to have him on my coaching staff to share his experience, knowledge and kindness with me."

After his time with the Blazers, Schuler was the head coach of the L.A. Clippers for two seasons, from 1991 to 1992. His career NBA coaching record was 179-159, including a 2-6 record in the playoffs.

Schuler coached college basketball at Virginia Military Institute and Rice University. His coaching career spanned 40 seasons, 16 in college and 24 in the NBA, according to the Blazers. He was inducted into the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.

Schuler was known as "Poppop" to his family, according to his obituary in the Arizona Republic. He had two daughters and four grandchildren with his wife, Gloria, who died in 2016, and "enjoyed nothing more than watching his grandchildren do their things."

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