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.

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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

AUBURN HILLS, MI - 1989: Head coach Chuck Daly of the Detroit Pistons points during a game played in 1989 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1989 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Head coach Chuck Daly of the Detroit Pistons points during a game played in 1989 at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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

LOS ANGELES -1989: Head Coach Pat Riley of the Los Angeles Lakers goes over a few plays during a time out in an NBA game circa 1989 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1989 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

 Pat Riley of the Los Angeles Lakers during a time out. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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

CHICAGO - JUNE 16: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls discusses strategy with head coach Phil Jackson in Game Six of the 1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle SuperSonics at the United Center on June 16, 1996 in Chicago Iillinois. The Bulls won 87-75. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson  discusses strategy with Michael Jordan in Game Six of the 1996 NBA Finals. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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

DENVER - NOVEMBER 26: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs stands behind his head coach Gregg Popovich during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on November 26, 2002 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets won 85-81. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich with his star Tim Duncan. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

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

BOSTON - 1978: Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait during a game played in 1978 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1978 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

Red Auerbach poses for a portrait at the Boston Garden. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

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.

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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.