Legendary former Princeton head coach, Sacramento Kings assistant Pete Carril dead at 92

·3 min read

The Kings organization and the basketball world lost another legend Monday when Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril died at the age of 92.

Carril, affectionately known as “Coachie,” served as head coach at Princeton for 29 years and later worked as an assistant in Sacramento, where he helped turn Kings basketball into a global phenomenon.

Carril’s family issued a statement Monday confirming his death.

“The Carril family is sad to report that Coach Peter J. Carril passed away peacefully this morning,” the family said. “We kindly ask that you please respect our privacy at this time as we process our loss and handle necessary arrangements. More information will be forthcoming in the following days.”

Carril devoted most of his life to basketball despite being a “5-foot-7 guy from the Ivy League,” as he often joked. He was enshrined in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

The Kings released a statement Monday honoring Carril’s life and legacy.

“The Sacramento Kings are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Coach Pete Carril, who was instrumental in changing the game of basketball with the Princeton Offense,” the team said. “During his time in Sacramento, Coachie left an indelible imprint on the Kings organization and the many players who benefited from his tutelage. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Gary Gerould, who is entering his 38th as the radio voice of the Kings, expressed his sadness on social media.

“So saddened to learn that legendary coach Pete Carril has passed,” Gerould tweeted. “Just an extraordinary human being. Rest easy Coachie!”

Carril grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he was an all-state basketball player at Liberty High School in 1947-48. He went on to play for Butch Van Breda Kolff at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Carril served as a public information officer in the United States Army at the conclusion of the Korean War before starting his coaching career as a junior varsity coach in Pennsylvania. He was named head coach at Lehigh in 1966 before moving on to Princeton, where he compiled a 514-261 (.663) record from 1967-96, leading the Tigers to 13 Ivy League championships, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT championship.

One of the many players Carril coached at Princeton was Geoff Petrie, who would later become the Kings’ president of basketball operations. Petrie hired Carril as an assistant coach in 1996.

From left, Kings executives Geoff Petrie, Pete Carril, Jerry Reynolds and Eddie Jordon – along with other Kings leaders – discuss draft strategy in a conference room at Arco Arena in 1997.
From left, Kings executives Geoff Petrie, Pete Carril, Jerry Reynolds and Eddie Jordon – along with other Kings leaders – discuss draft strategy in a conference room at Arco Arena in 1997.

Carril helped the Kings install and master the Princeton Offense, a system that served them well during their run of eight consecutive playoff appearances under former head coach Rick Adelman. The Kings played such a beautiful, fluid brand of basketball that Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, Jason Williams and Doug Christie were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, dubbed “The Greatest Show on Court.”

The Kings went 61-21 in 2001-02 to post the best record in the NBA. They reached the Western Conference finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in a controversial seven-game series.

Carril’s death comes two weeks after the death of Bill Russell, a fellow Hall of Famer who spent three seasons in Sacramento as a coach and executive with the Kings.

Sacramento Kings special assistant Pete Carril talks with Kings guard Doug Christie before the start of practice in 2003 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, the day before the team faced the Mavericks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Sacramento Kings special assistant Pete Carril talks with Kings guard Doug Christie before the start of practice in 2003 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, the day before the team faced the Mavericks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
DeMarcus Cousins meets with Kings assistant coach Pete Carril following practice in July 2010, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
DeMarcus Cousins meets with Kings assistant coach Pete Carril following practice in July 2010, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Sacramento Kings assistant coach Pete Carril watches a game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena in 2011.
Sacramento Kings assistant coach Pete Carril watches a game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena in 2011.