10 Greatest Coaches in NBA History

Greatest Coaches in NBA History: In 1996, as part of the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the NBA, journalists chose the 10 greatest coaches in NBA history. This was done alongside selecting the 50 greatest players. The list wasn’t ranked. NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the coaches on October 29, 1996, at the Grand Hyatt New York, where the original BAA founding agreements were signed in 1946. The announcement marked the beginning of the season-long celebrations.

Greatest Coaches in NBA History

All ten coaches were alive when they were chosen, and six were still actively coaching. Lenny Wilkens is unique because he is the only coach on this list who was also named among the 10 greatest coaches in NBA history.

10. Lenny Wilkens

Teams: Seattle SuperSonics (1969–1972, 1977–1985), Portland Trail Blazers (1974–1976), Cleveland Cavaliers (1986–1993), Atlanta Hawks (1993–2000), Toronto Raptors (2000–2003), New York Knicks (2004–2005).

Games2487
Winning Record 1332—1155, 1014—850 (.544) (.536)
NBA Title1 (1979)
Coach of the Year Award1 (1994)
All-Star Games4 (1979, 1980, 1989, 1994)
Hall of Fame1998

9. Pat Riley

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers (1981–1990), New York Knicks (1991–1995), Miami Heat (1995–2003, 2005–2008)

Games1904
Winning Record 1210—694. 798—339 (.702) (.636)
NBA Title5 (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2006 )
Coach of the Year Award3 (1990, 1993, 1997)
All-Star Games9 (1982, 1983, 1985 – 1990, 1993)
Hall of Fame2008

8. Jack Ramsay

Teams: Philadelphia 76ers (1968–1972), Buffalo Braves (1972–1976), Portland Trail Blazers (1976–1986), Indiana Pacers (1986–1988)

Games1647
Winning Record 864—783 (.525)
NBA Title1 (1977)
Coach of the Year Award
All-Star Games1 (1978 )
Hall of Fame1992

7. Don Nelson

Teams: Milwaukee Bucks (1976–1987), Golden State Warriors (1988–1995, 2006–2010), New York Knicks (1995–1996), Dallas Mavericks (1997–2005)

Games2398
Winning Record1335—1063, 794—629 (.558) (.557)
NBA Title
Coach of the Year Award3 (1983, 1985, 1992)
All-Star Games2 ( 1992, 2002 )
Hall of Fame2012

6. John Kundla

Teams: Minneapolis Lakers (1948–1959)

Games725
Winning Record423—302 (.583)
NBA Title5 ( 1949, 1950, 1952–54 )
Coach of the Year Award
All-Star Games4 ( 1951 – 1954 )
Hall of Fame1995

5. Phil Jackson

Teams: Chicago Bulls (1989–1998), Los Angeles Lakers (1999–2004, 2005–2011)

Games1640
Winning Record 1155—485, 414—173 (.705) (.704)
NBA Title11 ( 1991–93, 1996–98, 2000–02, 2009–10 )
Coach of the Year Award1 ( 1996 )
All-Star Games4 ( 1992, 1996, 2000, 2009 )
Hall of Fame2007

4. Red Holzman

Teams: Milwaukee / St. Louis Hawks (1954–1956), New York Knicks (1967–1982)

Games1299
Winning Record 696—603 (.536)
NBA Title2 ( 1970, 1973 )
Coach of the Year Award1 ( 1970 )
All-Star Games2 ( 1970, 1971 )
Hall of Fame1986

3. Bill Fitch

Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers (1970–1979), Boston Celtics (1979–1983), Houston Rockets (1983–1988), New Jersey Nets (1989–1992), Los Angeles Clippers (1994–1998)

Games2050
Winning Record 944—1106, 891—949 (.482) (.460)
NBA Title1 ( 1981 )
Coach of the Year Award2 ( 1976, 1980 )
All-Star Games1 ( 1982 )
Hall of Fame2019

2. Chuck Daly

Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers (1982), Detroit Pistons (1983–1992), New Jersey Nets (1992–1994), Orlando Magic (1997–1999)

Games1075
Winning Record638—437, 476—303 (.611) (.593)
NBA Title2 (1989, 1990)
Coach of the Year Award
All-Star Games1 ( 1990 )
Hall of Fame1994

1. Red Auerbach

Teams: Washington Capitols (1946 – 1949), Tri-Cities Blackhawks (1949/50), Boston Celtics (1950 – 1966)

Games1417
Winning Record 938—479 (.662)
NBA Title9 (1957, 1959 – 1966)
Coach of the Year Award1 (1965)
All-Star Games11 (1957 – 1967)
Hall of Fame1969

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