Portland Trail Blazers: Ranking Every Coach in Franchise History

Kristian Winfield@@KrisWinfield_Correspondent IIIAugust 9, 2011

Portland Trail Blazers: Ranking Every Coach in Franchise History

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    Coaching is a little bit harder than it seems.

    Commanding a group of grown men to follow protocol and do exactly what you say, how you say it can be a bit more than a walk in the park.

    The Portland Trail Blazers have been blessed with quite a few great coaches throughout the course of their franchise, several of which are now in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

    So, how does Rip City's current coach Nate McMillan stack up against such greatness? 

Jack McCloskey (1972-1974)

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    Regular Season Record: 48-116 (.293 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: N/A 

    Lieutenant Jack McCloskey served in World War II commanding a landing ship for Marines. Shortly after, during the 1953 NBA season, he played in one game for the Philadelphia Warriors where he scored six points.

    Between the years of 1972 and 1974, McCloskey was the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers where he had a forgettable 48-116 record. He then moved on as Jerry West's assistant in Los Angeles.

Rolland "Modd" Todd (1970-1972)

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    Regular Season Record: 41-97 (.297 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: N/A

    The first ever coach of the Portland Trail Blazers (which was then an expansion team), Rolland Todd, picked up a 23-59 record in his first season, the best of the three expansion teams that year.

    However, the next year, he was fired because he failed to improve on his record. 

Stu Inman (1972)

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    Regular Season Record: 6-20 (.231 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: N/A 

    After Rolland Todd was fired, Stu Inman replaced him as the interim coach. He may have only recorded six wins and 20 losses, but Inman played a huge role in developing the 1976-77 Portland Trail Blazers team that won the NBA Finals.

    Inman drafted Bill Walton, Geoff Petrie, Larry Steele, Lloyd Neal, Lionel Hollins, Bobby Gross, Wally Walker and Johnny Davis, signed Dave Twardzik after the American Basketball Association was dismantled and selected Maurice Lucas in the ABA Dispersal Draft.

    Inman later served as Portland's general manager from 1981 through 1986.

Lenny Wilkens (1974-1976)

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    Regular Season Record: 75-89 (.457 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: N/A 

    Though he's undoubtedly one of the greatest coaches of all time, Lenny Wilkens' time with the Portland Trail Blazers led to more losses than wins, a dreaded accomplishment for any coach in any sport.

    Wilkens served as a player-coach for the Trail Blazers in the 1974-1975 season (it means exactly what it says) and moved to the head coach position in the following year. He only coached the Blazers for two years after which the two parties parted ways.

    Wilkens is still one of the top 10 coaches in NBA History. Every coach starts with a bumpy road. Unfortunately, his was in Portland.

Maurice Cheeks (2001-2005)

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    Regular Season Record: 162-139 (.538 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: 3-7 (.300 winning percentage)
    Championship Appearances: 0

    Coach Maurice Cheeks was another great coach who graced the sidelines of the Portland Trail Blazers. After coaching under Larry Brown's Philadelphia 76ers in their championship appearance year, Cheeks branched off and took a job in Portland where he got off to a lukewarm start.

    Coach Cheeks took the Blazers to two playoffs appearances in four seasons, but he never managed to break the curse of the first round. After a forgettable start to the 2004-2005 season, Portland fired him and let GM Kevin Pritchard fill in as the interim.

    Pritchard was no better, only winning five of the remaining 27 games (.185 winning percentage).

P.J. Carlesimo (1994-1997)

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    Regular Season Record: 137-109 (.557 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: 3-9 (.250 winning percentage)
    NBA Finals Appearances:

    With the reputation of an "unrepentant screamer," P.J. Carlesimo yelled his way into three consecutive playoff appearances with the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Like many other Blazers coaches, however, Carlesimo was unable to lead the team out of the first round and unfortunately, was fired the after his third season with the team.

    It was P.J. Carlesimo's irritating screaming that got him choked out and elbowed by Latrell Spreewell during his stint with the Golden State Warriors. 

Nate McMillan (2005- Present)

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    Regular Season Record: 246-246 (.500 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: 6-12 (.333 winning percentage) 
    Championship Appearances:

    Coach Nate McMillan is a way better head coach than he's been given credit for. Despite the odds, McMillan's slowly progressed from an incredibly losing to an incredibly winning (cite: Charlie Sheen) record in the Western Conference.

    With multiple long-term injuries to Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla and Marcus Camby throughout his coaching career, Coach McMillan dug deep and found a way to lead his squad to four straight .500 or better seasons, three of which led to playoff appearances.

    In the past three years, McMillan's been eliminated in the first round, but he's also had injuries to key players in the process.

    Now that it looks like he's finally got a healthy team prepared for next season, Coach McMillan will break the curse and lead the Portland Trail Blazers, in my opinion, to their fourth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.

    Team Roster: 

    PG 0 Raymond Felton North Carolina
    SG 2 Wesley Matthews Marquette
    SF 3 Gerald Wallace Alabama
    PF 12 LaMarcus Aldridge Texas
    C 52 Greg Oden Ohio State
    SG 7 Brandon Roy Washington
    SF 88 Nicolas Batum France
    C 23 Marcus Camby Massachusetts
    PG 0 Nolan Smith Duke
    SG 0 Jon Diebler Ohio State
    PG 8 Patrick Mills St. Mary's
    C 17 Chris Johnson LSU

Mike Schuler (1986-1988)

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    Regular Season Record: 127-84 (.602 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: 2-4 (.250 winning percentage)
    NBA Finals Appearances: 0
    Awards: 1986-1987 NBA Coach of the Year

    He only coached two-and-a-half years in Portland, but coach Mike Schuler left the Trail Blazers as a great head coach. 

    Schuler won NBA Coach of the Year in the 1986-87 season with a 49-33 record. He then turned around and led the Blazers to a 53-29 record and a playoff berth, where they were eliminated in the first round.

    The following season would be full of commotion and turmoil, and after a mediocre 25-22 start, Schuler and the Portland Trail Blazers parted ways.

Mike Dunleavy Sr. (1997-2001)

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    Regular Season Record: 190-106 (.642 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: 18-18 (.500 winning percentage)
    NBA Finals Appearances:
    Awards: 1998-1999 NBA Coach of the Year

    The second winningest coach in Portland Trail Blazers history, coach Mike Dunleavy is ranked at No. 3 among the Blazers head coaches.

    This was his 1998-99 Coach of the Year Roster:

    50 Greg Anthony G 6-0 176

    2 Stacey Augmon F-G 6-6 205

    31 Kelvin Cato C 6-11 255

    Iowa State 
    12 John Crotty G 6-1 185

    44 Brian Grant F 6-9 254  
    23 Gary Grant G 6-3 185  
    19 Jim Jackson G 6-6 220  
    Ohio State
    5 Jermaine O'Neal F-C 6-11 226  
    Eau Claire (High School) 
    34 Isaiah Rider G 6-5 215  
    4 Carlos Rogers C-F 6-11 220  
    Tennessee State
    11 Arvydas Sabonis C 7-3 279  
    7 Brian Shaw G 6-6 190  
    UC, Santa Barbara
    3 Damon Stoudamire G 5-10 171  
    30 Rasheed Wallace F-C 6-10 225  
    North Carolina
    6 Bonzi Wells G-F 6-5 210  
    Ball State
    42 Walt Williams F-G 6-8 219  

    Coach Dunleavy led the Trail Blazers four straight playoff appearances, including two trips to the Western Conference finals.

    However, after failing to win a playoff game in 2001 with a roster that absorbed $89 million, Dunleavy was quickly relieved of his duties. 

Rick Adelman (1988-1994)

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    Regular Season Record: 291-154 (.654 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: 36-33 (.522 winning percentage)
    NBA Finals Appearances: 2 (1990 vs. Detroit Pistons; 1992 vs. Chicago Bulls
    Championships Won:

    Coach Rick Adelman was one of the very few coaches in Portland Trail Blazers history to lead the team to an NBA Finals appearance. Unfortunately for him, his efforts were in vain, faltering at both championship series, but his efforts remain enshrined in Rip City history.

    In the Blazers second Finals appearance, they faced the Detroit Pistons who had plans on repeating. The Pistons sealed the series with a buzzer-beating shot in Game 5, barely sneaking away with a championship victory.

    In 1992, the classic showdown of Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler went down as one of the greatest in NBA history. But unfortunately, MJ prevailed, leading his Chicago Bulls to a 4-2 series victory at the disposal of the Blazers.

    Regardless, taking his team to the NBA Finals twice in three years is an achievement most noteworthy, no matter what the outcome.

    Coach Adelman is one of best coaches of the 2001-2010 decade. He just parted ways with the Houston Rockets, but any team in need of great coaching would salivate at the opportunity to snag him.

    Rick Adelman is the only coach in Blazers history to have more wins than losses in the postseason.

John "Dr. Jack" Ramsay (1976-1986)

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    Regular Season Record: 453-367 (.552 winning percentage)
    Postseason Record: 29-30 (.492 winning percentage)
    NBA Finals Appearances: 1 (1977 vs. Philadelphia 76ers) 
    Championships: 1 (4-2 series win)

    Well, the man's record speaks for itself.

    John T. "Dr. Jack" Ramsay was the only head coach to bring a ring to Rip City, and for that, he finds himself at the top of the mountain for the history of head coaching for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Here was his championship team's roster:

    F 10
    Corky Calhoun (Penn)
    G 16
    Johnny Davis (Dayton)
    G 3
    Herm Gilliam (Purdue)
    F 30
    Bob Gross (Long Beach)
    G 14
    Lionel Hollins (Arizona St.)
    C 34
    Robin Jones (St. Louis)
    F 20
    Maurice Lucas (Marquette)
    F 36
    Lloyd Neal (Tenn St.)
    F/G 15
    Larry Steele (Kentucky)
    G 13
    Dave Twardzik (Old Dom)
    F 42
    Wally Walker (Virginia)
    C 32
    Bill Walton





    Coach Ramsay not only led the Blazers to their first ever winning record—the team was founded only a few years before—at 49-33 (third in the NBA), but he brought Portland to their first ever NBA Finals appearance where his team did not disappoint.

    Led by Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas, the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers fought back from a 0-2 deficit to win four straight games over the Philadelphia 76ers and cause one of the biggest NBA Finals upsets in NBA history.

    Dr. Jack was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and is ranked as one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history for leading the Portland Trail Blazers to nine playoff appearances in ten seasons.

    Ramsay retired as the NBA's second winningest coach with 864 wins, a record which was shattered by the likes of the Zen Master Phil Jackson and a few others.

    His legacy has been etched into coaching history and will remain there for all of eternity.