As we come to the end of another NBA season, I thought a “Top 5” list of NBA coaches would be an easy thing to do, but it was actually quite difficult.
More than any other major sports league, the NBA is talent driven. If you have the best players, you are going to win.READ MORE: Celebrate The Tampa Bay Lightning And Independence Day With Fourth Of July Boat Parade
It doesn’t take a Tyronn Lue or a Luke Walton to figure out that if you have a Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Stephen Curry or Michael Jordan on your team, you are going to eventually win a world championship.
But great coaches have made a difference through the years. Drastically. And we all have had our favorites on the sidelines. So here are my Top Five all-time best NBA Head Coaches. I would like to see your list, and you can post that on our Facebook page.
5.) Chuck Daly: 638 wins, 437 losses – 2 NBA Championships
After some success on the high school and college levels, the late Chuck Daly entered the NBA as an assistant in 1978. His first head coaching job was with the 76ers in 1981, but he did not make it through the season. He later became a broadcaster for the 76ers until he was hired by the Pistons in 1983. Detroit never had a good team until Daly took over, and he led the team to the NBA playoffs each and every season he was the head coach. The Pistons went to The Finals three times, winning back to back titles in 1989 and 1990. Daly also coached the famed “Dream Team” that won the Gold Medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. His ability to work with an immense group of high profile athletes made him one of the most successful and popular coaches of all time. Daly died of pancreatic cancer in 2009.
4.) Pat Riley: 1210 wins, 694 losses – 5 NBA Championships
Riley won five NBA titles, four with the Lakers and one with the Miami Heat. He coached one of the best Laker teams ever when his 1987 team with James Worthy, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went 65-17 in the regular season and won the NBA Championship. They repeated in 1989, becoming the first back to back NBA champs since the Boston Celtics in 1968 and 1969. Riley also was known for his fashion at courtside and his trademark hair. Admit it, anytime you see someone who has his hair slicked back, you immediately think of Riley.
3.) Phil Jackson: 1026 wins, 431 losses – 11 NBA Championships
Jackson has won more NBA Titles (11) than any other head coach He was the head coach during the Chicago Bulls run of six NBA titles in the 90’s and five more with the Lakers after the turn of the century. Known as the “Zen Master,” he has been able to get multi-talented teams to work together to win. He is currently the President of the Knicks. Which reminds me, did you ever see Jackson play for the Knicks back in the 70’s? He was a “personal foul” machine. Unless you were a Knicks’ fan, you despised him.
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2.) Gregg Popovich: 1089 wins, 485 losses – 5 NBA Championships
Popovich has built a dynasty with the San Antonio Spurs, winning 5 NBA titles since becoming the team’s coach in 1996. His 2015-2016 team was 67-15; his 19th straight winning season. He is also one of only two NBA coaches to win over 1,000 games with the same franchise (the other, Jerry Sloan of Utah). The final script has yet to be written for the 67-year-old Popovich as the Spurs continue to win, year after year, and vie for the title with him at the helm.
1.) Red Auerbach: 938 wins, 479 losses – 9 NBA Championships
The architect of the greatest dynasty in the NBA History, the Boston Celtics. Auerbach won nine NBA titles as head coach with players such as Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones and Tom Heinsohn and another seven titles as general manager by signing the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and Dave Cowens. The NBA Coach of the Year award is named the “Red Auerbach Trophy,” and has been done so since 1967.
There are so many who deserve an “honorable mention, even though they failed to make the list: Sloan, Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson, Bill Fitch, Red Holtzman and Dr. Jack Ramsey are just some.MORE NEWS: Airbnb Makes A Permanent Ban On Parties
The next great coach in the NBA is out there somewhere, but he will need to have superstars on his team to help him rise to the top.