By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on March 16, 2014
There’s pretty much no question that Phil Jackson and all his 11 NBA Championship rings ranks among the best coaches in NBA history. However, now Jackson will take on a new role as he has agreed to be president of basketball operations for the storied New York Knicks. In light of his return to the NBA, though, who are the 10 best NBA head coaches of all time and where does Jackson rank among them?
If you want to talk about the Knicks’ rise to the forefront of the league, you don’t need to look further than Red Holzman’s tenure from 1967 to 1982. In 1969, he led New York to a then record 18-game winning streak. Oh, he also brought two NBA Championships to the Big Apple in 1970 and 1973.
Don Nelson coached four teams from 1976 to 2010, including two separate stints with the Warriors. Though he never captured a title, his innovations to the game were numerous, including championing the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy and the idea of the point-forward. Moreover, Nelson finished his career with a remarkable 1,335 wins, making him the winningest coach in history. Not too shabby, even if there are no ring to his name.
Lenny Wilkens coached for 32 seasons from 1969 to 2005, obviously having a few off years sprinkled in. Wilkens won a title with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979 and ultimately ended up with the second most wins in NBA history at 1,332. Throw in the fact that he was an assistant coach for the 1992 Dream Team and it’s impossible to leave him off this list.
31 seasons is the amount of time Larry Brown has coached in the NBA and ABA, not including a number of stints in college, including his current run with SMU. Brown won a title with the Pistons in 2004 and has 1,327 wins between the NBA and ABA. Arguably his greatest accomplishment, though, is getting the Charlotte Bobcats to their lone playoff appearance in the franchise’s history in 2010.
Jerry Sloan coached the Bulls from 1979 to 1982, but it’s his stint with the Jazz from 1988 to 2011 that he’s best known for. Sloan led the Jazz to their glory years with Karl Malone and John Stockton working the pick-and-roll relentlessly, but also remarkably had only one losing season in his time in Utah.
Still coaching, you can’t deny Gregg Popovich is among the all-time great coaches. Coaching the Spurs since 1996, Pop has four championships and two Coach of the Year awards to his credit. Moreover, his system is near legendary in NBA circles for the way that it allows role players to shine and how he can find success within it no matter who the pieces are that comprise his roster.
Chuck Daly coached only 14 seasons in the NBA, but is best known for his run with the “Bad Boy” Pistons and as the head coach of the Dream Team in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He recorded just one losing season over his career, his first one in Cleveland for the 1981-82 season. With the Dream Team and two titles in Detroit to claim, though, Daly is certainly a legend in the coaching ranks.
Now helping run the Miami Heat from the front office, Pat Riley’s career as a coach was one full of stardom and notoriety. He coached the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s, winning four titles. He then went to the Knicks in the early 1990s to coach Patrick Ewing and company before two stints at the helm of the Heat from 1995 to 2003 and 2005 to 2008, which resulted in another title in 2006. That’s quite the résumé.
If you don’t know Jackson’s accomplishments by now, you must have been living under a rock. He and Michael Jordan ran the triangle offense with the Bulls to six titles from 1989 to 1998, then went to the Lakers in 1999, coaching Shaq and Kobe Bryant to a three-peat and winning another two rings with Kobe in 2009 and 2010. You could make a strong case for him as the best of all time, but he comes in at two.
Red Auerbach’s accomplishments are near endless. Auerbach captured nine titles with Bill Russell, capitalized on the use of the fast-break before almost anyone, led the way in terms of valuing role players, and was one of the first to get behind bringing in African-American players to the NBA. Auerbach seemingly accomplished all one can in this league and, though he notably only ran seven plays, is number one on this list.
March 30, 2015 by Dan Schultz
Taking a look at the Philadelphia 76ers and why Brett Brown has done a great job as coach there. Read More
Take a look at the Preview and predictions for Tuesday night's game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. Read More
Take a look at the preview and predictions for Tuesday night's game between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. Read More
March 30, 2015 by Trevor Lowry
To no one's surprise, Louisville's Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier will be taking their talents to the next level. Read More
Here's a preview and prediction for Monday night's game between the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. Read More
March 30, 2015 by Casey Sherman
Reggie Jackson's play with the Detroit Pistons is fulfilling the hype he's built around himself. Read More
March 30, 2015 by Jerry Landry
Here are 15 underclassmen who should take the leap to the NBA. Read More
March 30, 2015 by Jared Doyle
Dwyane Wade is still playing at an elite level despite the recent rash of injuries he has sustained. Read More