Top Five Greatest Coaches of All Time

Jason FunkContributor INovember 11, 2008

Considering every sport ever played, there have been hundreds of thousands of coaches to come along.  From the fathers that coach their children's soccer teams to big-time NFL coaches, there have been many great ones, but only five have made this list as the greatest coaches of all time.


5. Phil Jackson

1989-1998 Chicago Bulls, 1999-2004, 2005-2008 Los Angeles Lakers

Jackson is one of the most decorated NBA coaches ever. He has nine NBA titles, six of which came with the Bulls ('91,'92,'93,'96,'97,'98), and he later pulled off the third three-peat of his career while in Los Angeles ('00,'01,'02).

Jackson has coached some of the greatest players to ever set foot on a basketball court, including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant. He has a 981-418 record, which includes a remarkable 193-84 record in the playoffs.


4. Paul "Bear" Bryant

1945 Maryland, 1946-1953 Kentucky, 1954-1957 Texas A&M, 1958-1982 Alabama

Bryant was the all-time wins leader in NCAA football history until Joe Paterno surpassed him in 2001. He has a career record of 323-85-17.

He has won the NCAA Coach of the Year award three times, won 13 SEC championships, coached four undefeated seasons, and cemented his legacy with an amazing six national championships ('61,'64,'65,'73,'78,'79).


3. Don Shula

1963-1969 Baltimore Colts, 1970-1995 Miami Dolphins

Shula grabbed two NFL championships in 1972 and 1973 with the Miami Dolphins. His career record of 328-156-6 puts him head and shoulders above all other NFL coaches on the all-time wins list. He also had a 19-17 record in the playoffs.


2. Vince Lombardi

1959-1967 Green Bay Packers, 1969 Washington

The current Super Bowl trophy is named after Lombardi. He only coached for 10 seasons, but in that span, he won an incredible five NFL championships. His Packers were considered football royalty during his reign.

He had a career record of 96-34-6, but even more incredibly, Lombardi posted a 9-1 playoff record.

That is getting it done when it counts.


1. John Wooden

1947-1948 Indiana State, 1949-1975 UCLA

He was the coach of one of the greatest dynasties of all time. His UCLA Bruins won an unthinkable seven straight NCAA championships. That had never been done, and hasn't been repeated since. Winning back-to-back championships is a great accomplishment in and of itself, but seven?

He ended his career with 10 NCAA titles, which is the most ever. He had a 677-161 record, with an NCAA-record 88-game winning streak in the middle of that.  Don't forget his four consecutive undefeated seasons and six Coach of the Year awards.

Wooden is the greatest coach ever.