The NBA is a league where talent triumphs. The impact of a coach on the roster is frequently neglected, but certain coaches make it difficult.
The following is a list of the greatest NBA victors, motivators, and basketball geniuses in history. Let’s take a look at the top ten NBA coaches of all time.
10. Lenny Wilkens
Lenny Wilkens coached in the NBA for 35 years and coached about 2,500 games.
He finished his career with 1,332 victories, an incredible result given the players he managed during his tenure.
He made the playoffs 20 times in his career but never had the opportunity to coach a Hall of Famer.
Wilkens was a member of the Seattle Supersonics, who were led by Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, and Gus Williams to one NBA championship.
He tossed the assumption that superstar quality is required to win in the NBA back in everyone’s face.
He used the media’s skepticism of his teams to encourage them to overcome difficulties.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to witness Wilkens coach a more talented team, but maybe next time.
9. Larry Brown
Larry Brown did not have as many NBA championships as the other players on this list.
It wasn’t for a lack of good coaching, but for his ability to turn around failing franchises.
He took over as head coach of the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs and turned them around from losing to winning teams.
His one NBA title came in 2004, when he led the Detroit Pistons on a Cinderella run through the NBA playoffs.
The streak concluded with a championship victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, who boasted four Hall-of-Famers on their team. There are plenty of better winners and motivators on this list, but Brown might be at the top with the X’s and O’s of coaching.
He finished his career with over 1,300 wins. If his NBA accolades weren’t enough, he also led the Kansas Jayhawks to the 1988 NCAA National Championship.
8. Chuck Daly
Chuck Daly was less well-known than the other individuals on this list, but his techniques were effective.
His decision to play bully ball with the Bad Boy Pistons received mixed reactions, but the two NBA championships in Daly’s trophy case don’t seem to mind.
During the 1980s, the Showtime Lakers and the Boston Celtics were playing high-energy basketball, but Daly and the Detroit Pistons stepped in with a hard-nosed style and won three straight NBA championships.
They lost in 1988 but won consecutively in 1989 and 1990. Daly was not the first to adopt the “defense wins championships” philosophy, but he ran with it.
Daly would not have been able to play if the Bulls had not done everything, they could to counteract the Pistons’ style.
7. Jerry Sloan
Jerry Sloan might be near the top of a list of the finest coaches who never won an NBA championship.
Sloan led the Utah Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances between 1989 and 2003.
While a coach’s job security might be erratic, Sloan stayed with the Jazz for more than three decades.
With only John Stockton and Karl Malone as superstars, his success was determined by leading the small-market team to numerous postseason berths.
Sloan finished with 1,221 victories and a.603 winning percentage, and a pair of NBA titles would have propelled him to the top of the list.
The worst thing that could have happened to Sloan was that he was coaching while Michael Jordan was playing, and Utah could never get over the hump that was Jordan.
6. K.C. Jones
Jones’ coaching career was shorter than some, but he made the most of his time with the Celtics.
As a player, he was a member of the Bill Russell Celtics teams that won eight NBA titles in nine seasons.
Jones was overshadowed by the team’s stars, but his defensive ability was critical to the team’s success.
His humility as a player benefited him well as a head coach, since he was a consistent players coach.
He was an assistant coach on several teams until 1978, when he returned to Boston as their assistant coach.
He took over as head coach of the Celtics in 1984 and led them to five Eastern Conference championships and two NBA crowns.
The team’s success makes Jones have the second-best winning percentage among coaches with over 700 games. The only coach with a higher mark is Phil Jackson.
5. Steve Kerr
As a player of the Chicago Bulls, Steve Kerr learned the ultimate lesson in head coaching from Phil Jackson.
Kerr was present for the three-peat and surely learnt from Jackson and Michael Jordan what it required to win.
Kerr’s success has been aided by the fact that he has had Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant on his side.
However, managing all of the egos takes a special coach, something Jackson made appear easy during his coaching career.
Kerr has led the Warriors to five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, and he would have more titles if not for heroic efforts by LeBron James.
Despite this, he has won four NBA championships, and the club appears to be capable.
Kerr currently has the third-highest regular-season winning percentage among coaches who have coached at least 700 games, trailing just Jackson and Jones.
4. Pat Riley
Pat Riley is one of the best basketball minds because of his ability to adapt to any situation.
While his skill set was best suited for coaching, he has now gone into the front office and been equally effective.
During Magic Johnson’s rookie season, he began as an associate coach for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the 1980s, he won four NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the 1990s, he took over the New York Knicks and led them to the NBA Finals, where they were defeated by the Houston Rockets.
Riley, like many other coaches on this list, coached legends like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Patrick Ewing, and Dwayne Wade. When he took over as coach, he won his final title.
Many coaches run into the problem of not adapting their scheme to fit the personnel on the floor.
However, Riley ran a run-and-gun style with the Showtime Lakers, then played bully ball with the Knicks and Ewing, then perfected the half-court offense in Miami. Riley was also a three-time NBA Coach of the Year.
3. Gregg Popovich
Popovich’s influence as a coach extends beyond his wins and defeats. This is significant given that he now holds the all-time win record for head coaches with 1,364.
Popovich has five NBA championships and has been named Coach of the Year three times.
He was the league’s most consistent coach, having led the Spurs to 22 consecutive playoff berths.
After a disappointing season, he now has the opportunity to mentor Victor Wembanyama in his quest to become the league’s next great big man. Wembanyama’s future seems bright after Popovich’s success with Tim Duncan.
As previously stated, Popovich’s style pervades the NBA much beyond his wins and losses.
Eleven previous assistant coaches have gone on to become head coaches, drawing on Pop’s coaching style and playbook.
Because of Pop’s longevity, you will eventually witness a league where more than half of the teams are affected by his approach in some way.
2. Red Auerbach
No one thought Auerbach could be dethroned as the greatest coach until the leader of the Chicago Bulls dynasty arrived.
Auerbach led the Celtics to eight consecutive championships while coaching icons such as Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and John Havlicek. Long before it became a focus in the coaching ranks, Auerbach had a feel for the psychological element of the game.
He persuaded his all-star team to quit competing individually and start sacrificing for the team.
His teams regularly defeated star-padding stars of the era, such as Wilt Chamberlain, and nearly always won.
There are currently more coaches and support staff on an NBA sideline than players.
Auerbach was the only member of the coaching staff during his tenure. He had no deputy head coaches and made all personnel choices himself.
We had to rank Auerbach second for the ranking, but he and the following man are more of a 1A and 1B situation because they were in separate eras and are difficult to compare.
1. Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson is the most successful head coach in NBA history. He is an 11-time NBA champion who has three three-peats.
Jackson concluded his career with back-to-back Lakers championships.
From 1991 to 1993, he won three titles in a row with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, then three more with them from 1996 to 1998.
Jackson subsequently took over the Lakers, guiding Kobe Bryant and powerful center Shaquille O’Neal to three straight titles from 2000 to 2002.
After the Lakers sold Shaq to Miami to end Jackson’s great career, he and Kobe won two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
Jackson was only named NBA Coach of the Year once, a tribute to how he never left the top as a coach.
The honor is typically presented to a coach who took a club from mediocrity to prominence, but Jackson never allowed his squad to be anything less than a contender.
He owns the highest regular-season winning percentage in history (.704) and 1,155 career victories.
His biggest strength was his ability to manage egos such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal while also dealing with quirky personalities such as Dennis Rodman and Metta World Peace.