NBA Power Rankings: The Top 50 Coaches In NBA History
Coaches have come and gone throughout NBA history. Head coaches. Assistant coaches. Player-coaches.
While some have enjoyed success by winning championships or just guiding their teams to the postseason, others have failed miserably.
This slideshow will feature the NBA's 50 greatest coaches of all time.
To make this jam-packed list, the person doesn't have to own a career winning record or be a head coach. However, it is imperative that they have coached more than three years.
Well, with about further ado, here are the NBA's greatest coaches ever.
50. Scott Skiles
Everybody had written off the Milwaukee Bucks before the start of last season. They must have been underestimating Skiles' coaching brilliance.
The former NBA point guard guided the Bucks to a 46-36 record and a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Earlier in his career in 2005, Skiles took the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs for the first time since 1998, the year that they won their sixth championship.
49. Nate McMillan
McMillan is one of the top head coaches in the league today.
He did an excellent job this past season by coaching the injury-riddled Portland Trail Blazers to a 52-30 record.
McMillan has compiled a 410-395 record in his 10-year career.
48. Doug Collins
Inking a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, Collins will return to he sidelines this coming season for the first time since 2003.
Collins has coached eight seasons in the NBA going 332-287. His best year came in 1996-97 when he led the Detroit Pistons to a 54-28 record.
He coached the Eastern Conference All-Star team that year as well.
47. Stan Albeck
Albeck coached the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets, and Chicago Bulls.
He posted a 307-267 record in seven years in the NBA.
46. Rick Carlisle
Carlisle, currently head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, has compiled a 386-270 record.
The Jim Carrey look-alike has won at least 50 games in five of his eight seasons, including a career-best 61 in 2003-04.
He guided the Detroit Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003, and then followed it up by taking the Indiana Pacers there the next season.
Carlisle was named Coach of the Year in 2001-02.
45. Mike D'Antoni
D'Antoni, currently the head coach of the New York Knicks, enjoyed the most success of his career with the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns reached the 50-win plateau in four of the five seasons in which D'Antoni was coach.
He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2004-05.
44. Del Harris
Harris led the Houston Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981, just his second season as head coach.
In 1994-95, he was named the league's Coach of the Year, after leading the pre-Shaq and Kobe Los Angeles Lakers to a 48-34 record.
Harris put together a 556-457 record during his 14-year coaching career.
43. Stan Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy has proven that he's more than just Jeff's brother. He has done his part in turning the Orlando Magic into a perennial title contender.
In 2009, Van Gundy led Orlando to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1995.
Van Gundy has won 59 games in three of his six seasons and carries a 282-149 record.
42. Mike Brown
Brown wasn't fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers this past offseason because he isn't a good coach. It was because he failed to lead the team to a championship.
The 2008-09 NBA Coach of the Year had a 272-138 record during his five-year career with the Cavs.
Brown guided the team to the Finals in 2007 and had back-to-back 60+ winning seasons.
It's only a matter of time before he finds another NBA head coaching position.
41. Jeff Van Gundy
As a head coach, Van Gundy spent 11 seasons in the NBA: seven with the New York Knicks and four with the Houston Rockets.
He coached the eighth-seeded Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals, where they were stopped by the San Antonio Spurs.
That remains the only time in NBA history that an eighth-seeded team has reached the Finals.
Van Gundy won at least 50 games in four different seasons.
40. Byron Scott
You have to feel sorry for Scott.
The former Laker guard accepted the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching position in July with hopes of coaching two-time MVP LeBron James.
And as we all know, LeBron "took his talents" to Miami, leaving Scott with a superstar-less Cavs squad to coach in 2010-11. Hopefully Scott will do a fine job in Cleveland.
Earlier in his career, Scott took the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, and received the NBA Coach of the Year Award in 2007-08 with the New Orleans Hornets.
39. Mike Dunleavy
Dunleavy took the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 1991, just his first season as a head coach.
He later won the Coach of the Year Award in 1998-99 after his Portland Trail Blazers finished 35-15 in the strike-shortened season.
In 2006, Dunleavy guided the Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs, where they won their first series since 1977.
38. Flip Saunders
Saunders became head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995 as he was hired by his buddy Kevin McHale, then the team's general manager.
Saunders would go onto become the greatest coach in Wolves history.
He guided Minnesota to their first ever playoff appearance in 1996-97 and a franchise-best 58 wins in 2003-04.
Saunders later took the Detroit Pistons to the Eastern Confernce Finals three consecutive times from 2006-2008.
37. Mike Fratello
The superstar play of of Dominique Wilkins wasn't the only reason the Atlanta Hawks enjoyed success in the 1980s.
Head coach Mike Fratello had a lot to with it as also.
Under Fratello, the Hawks won at least 50 games four consecutive seasons from 1986 to 1989.
He was named the NBA's Coach of the Year in 1985-86.
In addition, Fratello led the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies to the playoffs.
36. Doug Moe
Moe spent 15 years as an NBA head coach, mostly with the Denver Nuggets.
He compiled a 628-529 record and was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 1987-88 after winning a career-high 54 wins.
35. Hubie Brown
Brown won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1977-78 and 26 years later, 2003-04, the 70-year-old received the award once again.
Also in 2003-04, Brown coached the Memphis Grizzlies to their first ever postseason appearance.
34. Cotton Fitzsimmons
Fitzsimmons coached 21 seasons, including three stints with the Phoenix Suns.
He won NBA Coach of the Year honors in both 1978-79 and 1988-89.
During his career, Fitzsimmons racked up 832 wins with 775 losses.
33. Richie Guerin
Guerin spent his entire eight-year head coaching career with the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks.
He led the team to the postseason in each of those eight seasons and posted a record of 327-291
Guerin won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1967-68.
32. Al Cervi
Cervi guided the Dolph Schayes-led Syracuse Nationals to an NBA title in 1955.
He accumulated 326 wins and 241 losses during his nine-year career.
31. Les Harrison
Harrison coached the Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings) to an NBA title in 1951.
He compiled a 250-166 record in seven seasons as head coach.
30. John MacLeod
MacLeod coached 14 of his 18 seasons for the Phoenix Suns.
In 1976, he guided the Suns to the Finals, where they fell to the Boston Celtics in six games. Game Five of the series is considers the greatest NBA games of all time.
MacLeod compiled a 707-657 record overall.
29. Al Attles
The highlight of Attles' coaching career was guiding Rick Barry and the Golden State Warriors to a championship in 1975.
That year, the Warriors shocked the world by sweeping the highly-favored Washington Bullets in four games.
Attles compiled a 557-518 record during his 14-year career with the Warriors.
28. Gene Shue
Shue was an NBA head coach for 22 seasons, spending time with both the Baltimore and Washington Bullets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers.
He led the two different teams to the NBA Finals: Baltimore in 1971 and Philadelphia in 1977.
Shue won Coach of the Year honors in 1968-69 and 1981-82.
27. Fred Schaus
Schaus was the Lakers' first head coach after the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.
During his seven seasons in L.A., the Lakers reached the NBA Finals on four occasions, losing to the Boston Celtics each time.
Schaus won 315 games and lost 245.
26. Doc Rivers
In just his first season as head coach, 1999-00, Rivers was named NBA Coach of the Year after leading an Orlando Magic team full of role players to a 41-41 record.
Rivers later guided the Boston Celtics to a championship in 2008 and another trip to the Finals in 2010.
With Rivers decision to return to the bench this coming season, the Celtics could very well reach the Finals once again.
Rivers has compiled a 541-380 during his 11-year career.
25. Larry Costello
In 1970-71, Costello won a career-high 66 games and guided the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson-led Milwaukee Bucks to the title.
He later led the Bucks to the 1974 Finals, where they fell to the Boston Celtics.
Costello had a 430-300 record.
24. Bill Sharman
Playing for Sharman in 1971-72, the Los Angeles Lakers put together an NBA record 33-game winning streak and finished the season with a 69-13 record.
The Lakers went on to win the title that year over the New York Knicks in five games.
Sharman compiled a 333-240 record in seven years with the Lakers and San Francisco Warriors.
23. Rick Adelman
Adelman has only missed the playoffs three times during his 19 years as an NBA head coach.
He led the Portland Trail Blazers to the Finals in both 1990 and 1992, losing to Detroit and Chicago respectively.
Later on, Adelman played a role in helping the Sacramento Kings become one of the league's top teams in the early 2000s.
22. Bill Russell
As a player, Russell is widely considered to be in the top five of all time.
He wasn't too bad as a coach either.
Russell led the Boston Celtics to NBA championships in both 1968 and 1969 in a player-coach role.
In 1974-75, Russell took the Seattle SuperSonics to the playoffs for the first time in team history.
21. Tom Heinsohn
Heinsohn led the Boston Celtics to NBA titles in 1974 as well as 1976.
The Hall of Fame forward was named Coach of the Year in 1972-73.
He put together a 427-263 record during his nine-year career.
20. Tex Winter
Winter was instrumental in two dynasties: the 1990s Chicago Bulls and the early-2000s Lakers.
No, he wasn't the head coach of those teams—that was Phil Jackson's job—however he installed his famous triangle offense.
Serving as an assistant under Jackson for several years, Winter picked up six titles in Chicago and then three in L.A.
Some believe that Winter should have a spot in the Hall of Fame by now.
19. George Karl
Karl has enjoyed success everywhere he has gone.
He has coached the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, and his current team, the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs.
In 1995-96, Karl guided Seattle to a franchise-best 64 wins and trip to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games.
Karl has coached in the All-Star Game four times: 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2010.
His 986 wins rank seventh all-time.
18. Alex Hannum
Hannum led the St. Louis Hawks to a championship in 1958 over the mighty Boston Celtics.
He later guided the Wilt Chamberlain-led Philadelphia 76ers to a title in 1967.
Hannum is one of only three NBA head coaches—Phil Jackson and Pat Riley are the other two—to win championships with two different teams.
17. Billy Cunningham
In 1980 and 1982, Cunningham led the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals, where they would lose to Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers both times.
Cunningham however, would get his revenge in 1983, as he guided the Sixers to championship, sweeping the Lakers 4-0.
Cunningham won 454 games and lost 196, a percentage of .698.
16. K.C. Jones
Jones led the Washington Bullets to the NBA Finals in 1975.
After taking over for Bill Fitch as the Boston Celtics head coach in 1983, Jones led the team to four straight Finals appearances, winning two.
15. Dick Motta
Motta won the only championship of his head coaching career in 1978 as his Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in seven games.
He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1970-71 after guiding the Chicago Bulls to a 51-31 record.
Motta won 935 games during his 25-year career.
14. Rudy Tomjanovich
Tomjanovich guided Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995.
During his 13 years as head coach with the Rockets and Lakers, Tomjanovich compiled a 527-416 record.
13. Jack Ramsay
Ramsay served as a head coach for 21 seasons, spending time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Buffalo Braves, Portland Trail Blazers, and Indiana Pacers.
He's probably best known for leading the overachieving Blazers to an NBA championship in 1977.
Ramsay had an overall record of 864-783 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
12. Bill Fitch
Fitch led Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics to an NBA Championship in 1980 and took the Houston Rockets to the Finals in 1986.
He was named NBA Coach of the Year in both 1975-76 and 1979-80.
Fitch racked up 944 wins, which is eighth on the all-time list.
11. Jerry Sloan
Sloan became the head coach of the Utah Jazz in 1988. Twenty-two years later, he still holds the same position.
The former Chicago Bulls guard has led Utah to 13 50+ win seasons and two NBA Finals appearances.
Sloan currently ranks fourth on the NBA's all-time win list with 1,190. He also has 780 losses.
10. Don Nelson
Although Nelson has never won a title as a head coach, he's the NBA's all-time leader in victories with a whopping 1,335.
After turning the Milwaukee Bucks into one of the top teams of the 1980s, Nelson coached some exciting "run and gun" ball clubs in Golden State.
Nelson later helped transform the Dallas Mavericks from a loser to a perennial title contender.
In 2007, Nelson was a part of one of the biggest upsets in playoff history as his eighth-seeded Warriors defeated the top-seeded Mavericks.
9. Red Holzman
Holzman is undoubtedly the greatest coach in New York Knicks history.
Spending 14 seasons in New York, he led the Knicks to NBA championships in both 1970 and 1973.
Holzman won Coach of the Year honors in 1969-70.
In 1996, he was named one of the top 10 greatest coaches in NBA history.
8. John Kundla
Kundla played a major role in the NBA's first dynasty.
He guided George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships in six years.
In 1996, Kundla was named one of the NBA's 10 greatest coaches of all time.
7. Larry Brown
Brown has traveled quite a bit through the NBA, coaching nine different teams. He may be well-traveled, but that doesn't mean he isn't a legendary coach.
The current Charlotte Bobcats head coach is the only coach to ever win a national championship (Kansas in 1988) and an NBA championship (Detroit Pistons in 2004).
For his NBA career, Brown has accumulated 1,089 wins, which is sixth all-time.
Brown was named Coach of the Year in 2000-01, a season in which he did a marvelous job in taking Philadelphia to the finals.
6. Lenny Wilkens
Wilkens led the Seattle SuperSonics to a championship in 1979.
He later won the NBA Coach of the Year Award in 1994-94 after his Atlanta Hawks finished with a 57-25 record.
Wilkens coached the United State to a gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics and was an assistant on the '92 "Dream Team" which won gold as well.
Wilkins' ranks second in NBA history with 1,332 victories, trailing Don Nelson.
He was inducted in the Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach
5. Chuck Daly
Daly guided the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. He made the playoffs in each of his nine seasons in Detroit.
He also took the New Jersey Nets and Orlando Magic to the postseason.
Daly led the famous "Original Dream Team" to a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
In 1994, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
4. Gregg Popovich
Popovic had a miserable first season as the San Antonio Spurs' head coach, going just 17-47 in 1996-97.
However, that would prove to be his last losing season.
"Pop" has won 50+ games the past 11 years and has led the Spurs to four NBA titles in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007.
He was named Coach of the Year in 2003-03.
Popovich owns an impressive overall record of 736-362 and a winning percentage of .670.
3. Pat Riley
Riley is well known for his slicked-back hair style. He's also known as one of the greatest coaches in sports history.
Riley guided Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the "Showtime" Lakers to four titles in the 1980s.
After leading the New York Knicks to a finals appearance in 1994, Riley later picked up another ring with the Miami Heat in 2006.
He ranks third all-time in victories with 1,210 and had a winning percentage of .636.
In addition, Riley was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1990, 1993, and 1997.
2. Red Auerbach
If it wasn't for Auerbach, the Boston Celtics probably wouldn't have so many banners hanging from the rafters in the TD Garden.
Auerbach led the Celtics to nine championships, including a record eight in row. It's pretty safe to say that no other NBA team will ever win that many consecutive titles.
His 938 wins ranks ninth all time.
1. Phil Jackson
Were you expecting someone else?
With a record 11 championships under his belt, Jackson is the NBA's greatest coach of all time.
Jackson began his career with the Chicago Bulls in 1989. He went on to guide the team to three consecutive titles from 1991-1993 and then three more from 1996-1998.
Later on, Jackson led the Los Angeles Lakers to five titles from 2000-2010.
Jackson owns an insane record of 1,098-460 and a winning percentage of .705.
Not many people will be surprised if he picks up championship No. 12 in 2011.