The 10 Best Player/Coach Duos in Sports Right Now
Over the years, we've seen some pretty darn good pairings of coaches leading players to greatness, forever etching their legacies together.
We've had MJ and Phil.
Jeter and Torre.
And, going back some time, Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll.
But who are the greatest right now?
It's an argument we tackled with these 10 best player/coaching duos going in sports right now.
10. A.J. McCarron and Nick Saban
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Though we hate to admit it as a Big Ten fan, no one's rolling quite like the Tide is rolling these days.
And rightfully so, all the credit should be tossed towards the legendary head coach Nick Saban and his main man commanding the huddle, A.J. McCarron.
With back-to-back national titles together—with a chance to make it a three-peat in 2014—the two have done their part in making T-town the preemptive spot for any future NFL player to play.
Want to know how closely tied these two actually are?
Look no further than McCarron barking at his offensive line during the national championship game—while leading 42-14.
If that's not an extension of his head coach Saban, we don't know what is.
9. Evan Longoria and Joe Maddon
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This one might come as a surprise to some people out there, but take a look at what the Rays' Evan Longoria and Joe Maddon have accomplished together and you might just change your tune.
After winning the American League Rookie of the Year in 2008, Longoria has become one of the most consistent all-around players in baseball, earning a couple Gold Gloves and becoming a three-time All-Star.
His manager—the seemingly quirky Maddon—may look a little goofy wearing his trademark frames almost every game, but the dude knows his baseball.
The two have combined to take the once dormant franchise to the postseason three of the past five seasons, which included two division titles and a World Series appearance in 2008—which they lost to the Phillies in five games.
8. Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers
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One of the things we love about this pairing is the fact that the two didn't get together until 2004, went through some tough times, yet have reached the pinnacle of the basketball world together.
Adversity aside, Paul Pierce and his head coach Doc Rivers are the modern day Kobe and Phil, in that they understand each other, as well as what it means to represent the great Celtic tradition.
Together, the two have won six division titles and have reached the NBA Finals twice, adding banner No. 17 for the Celts organization in 2008.
With the amount of Hall of Famers the franchise has seen over its existence, it's a testament to these two that Pierce is even mentioned as potentially being the best of anyone who has played on the parquet floor.
7. Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin
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It's hard to argue with two Super Bowl victories over a five-year span.
Considering the turnover and parody the NFL sees on an annual basis, just seeing a coach and player get a chance to duplicate success together is rare enough, but to then actually have it happen is something special.
Eli Manning has collected all three of his Pro Bowl berths under the guidance of Tom Coughlin, as well as his two Super Bowl MVP awards, and Coughlin has been rewarded with some fine looking jewelry for his help in making Eli elite.
6. Kevin Durant and Scott Brooks
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It may appear to be like that movie My Giant with Billy Crystal and former NBA big man Gheorghe Muresan, but there's more than meets the eye with Kevin Durant and his head coach.
Since Scottie Brooks took over the OKC Thunder in 2008, he's challenged his star forward to become more than just a scoring threat, pushing him to become an all-around player both in his distributing and rebounding skills, as well as on the defensive end.
Though Durant has yet to win an MVP award, he has finished as the league's scoring leader the previous three seasons before this year, where he voluntarily conceded to the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony.
With a Finals trip already on their resume together, they appear to be the favorites to get back to the championship round as long as these two remain intact.
5. Buster Posey and Bruce Bochy
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If the argument is that catcher is the most mentally demanding and critical part of a baseball team, then we'd think it's pretty important for a manager to find a good one.
Lucky for Giants Manager Bruce Bochy, he has reigning National League MVP Buster Posey on his side to help command the pitching staff, because Posey is one of the best in the game.
Teaming up since the catcher broke into the majors for good in 2010, the two have helped lead the Giants to two World Series titles in the past three seasons.
At just 26 years old, Posey has plenty of baseball ahead of him, and we have a hunch his manager will help him prove he was worth the $167 million the front office extended his way this past offseason.
4. Sidney Crosby and Dan Bylsma
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Though he's battled injuries the past couple of seasons, many still consider Pens captain Sidney Crosby to be the NHL's best.
And thanks to the protection and support his head coach Dan Bylsma has given him in not rushing him back from those injuries, the two are in position to hoist another Stanley Cup together—as they did during the 2009 season.
Crosby has earned one Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) and Bylsma a Jack Adams Award (NHL's Top Coach), but with the way they've led the Penguins this year, both may just add another one atop their mantels by the end of the season.
3. Ryan Giggs and Alex Ferguson
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When people think of Manchester United, many recall names like David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo donning the prestigious red kits.
But ask any Red Devils fan who the heart and soul of the squad has been since playing his first match with the team in 1990, and they'll tell you it's Ryan Giggs.
Under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson—arguably the greatest manager of all-time—the two have combined for 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two Champions League trophies, with both receiving various individual awards.
Seeing that they just captured their latest EPL title just earlier this week, it seems there's no slowing down these elder statesmen anytime soon.
2. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick
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When a guy heads into the league as a sixth-round pick—with six other QBs selected ahead of him—one wouldn't consider that guy to not only end up being one of the greatest signal-callers to ever play the game, but to also develop a longstanding relationship with the same head coach who drafted him.
But that's exactly what happened between Golden Boy quarterback Tom Brady and Bill Belichick during their 13 seasons together.
Over that stretch, the two have combined to appear in five total Super Bowls (winning three), while both have captured numerous individual awards—Brady has two league MVP awards and eight Pro Bowls, Belichick with three league "Coach of the Year" awards.
These two will forever be linked together, so it should be interesting to see if they can win that fourth Super Bowl before they both hang it up.
1. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich
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Though we originally had the Spurs duo sitting at No. 2 on our list, we had to rethink things and push them to our top spot.
Helping Tim Duncan earn two league MVP awards, four NBA titles and being tossed into the discussion as the greatest power forward to play the game is a good way to earn another man's respect.
Never having missed the postseason in their careers together, they have the longest current playoff streak in the NBA at 16 years.
The only coach that Tim Duncan's ever known while wearing an NBA uniform, Pop sincerely loves the "Big Fundamental," treating him like his own son at times—and the feeling seems to be mutual—making for some great moments together.