greatest NBA coaches

The 10 Greatest NBA Coaches In History

The NBA is arguably the most popular and well-known basketball league in the world. NBA coaches are some of the best in their field, so it’s no surprise that NBA coaching has become a highly desirable profession for many people. In this blog post, we will take a look at 10 of the greatest NBA coaches in history and rank them based on their achievements and what they’re best known for!

as of 03/12/2023 5:17 PM
as of 03/12/2023 5:17 PM
as of 03/12/2023 5:17 PM
Last updated on 03/12/2023 5:17 PM
greatest NBA coaches

10. Red Holzman

Red Holzman is best known as the head coach of the New York Knicks, from 1967-1977 and again from 1978 to 1982. He led the Knicks to their only 2 championships, winning them in 1970 and 1973. In his coaching career, he was a one-time NBA coach of the year in 1970 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986. The Knicks retired number 613 in his honor, a number of wins that he accumulated as their head coach.

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 696-603 (.536)
  • Playoff record: 58-47 (.552)
  • Number of seasons coached: 18
  • NBA Championships: 2
  • Coach of the Year: 1

9. Rudy Tomjanovich

Amazing as a player, and even better as a coach. Rudy Tomjanovich is well known for his coaching days at Houston Rockets. He was the head coach of the Rockets for 12 seasons and led them to their back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. Alongside the two rings that he won, he won the Olympic gold with USA national team in the 2000 Olympics. “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.” – one of the most iconic lines from coaches in NBA history came from Rudy Tomjanovich!

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 527-416 (.559)
  • Playoff record: 51-39 (.567)
  • Number of seasons coached: 13
  • NBA Championships: 2
  • Olympic gold: 1

8. Larry Brown

The only coach ever to win both NCAA and NBA championships. Larry Brown is widely known for transforming losing franchises into winning ones. In his career, he coached more than 2000 games 1327 of them with a winning percentage of .568. One of the biggest upsets in NBA history was made by Brown’s Detroit Pistons when they defeated the star-packed Lakers with Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton. He was selected as the Coach of the Year in 2001 and was

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 1327-1011 (.568)
  • Playoff record: 120-115 (.511)
  • Number of seasons coached: 27
  • NBA Championships: 1
  • Coach of the Year: 1

7. Lenny Wilkens

In his 32-year-old coaching career, Lenny Wilkens was a head coach to 6 different teams and took to the playoffs 5 of them. He was most successful as the head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics and led them to their only championship in 1979. Wilkens also led USA national team as the head coach in the 1996 Olympics where they won the gold medal. He is third all-time in most coaching wins, behind Gregg Popovich and Don Nelson with 1,332 victories.

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 1332-1155 (.536)
  • Playoff record: 80-98 (.449)
  • Number of seasons coached: 32
  • NBA Championships: 1
  • Coach of the Year: 1

6. Chuck Daly

A mastermind behind Detroit’s “Bad Boys”, Chuck Daly led the Pistons to back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. In the era when the “Showtime” Lakers were dominating the league, Chuck Daly and his “Bad Boys” introduced a new style of basketball. Focusing on defense, toughness, and rebounding, they switched the basketball from a flashy and artsy game to a man’s game. As his career peak, he was a head coach of the original USA “Dream Team” that dominated the Olympics in 1992, arguably, the best team ever assembled.

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 638-437 (.593)
  • Playoff record: 75-51 (.595)
  • Number of seasons coached: 14
  • NBA Championships: 2
  • Olympic gold: 1

5. Steve Kerr

In his short, 9-year-old coaching career, Steve Kerr already won 4 championships! As a player, he played under Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich and was able to implement the triangle offense and pace and spacing in his system, which definitely gave results. He won 5 championships as a player, playing for the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs, and with 9 rings in total, he is definitely one of the biggest winners in NBA history!

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 429-200 (.682)
  • Playoff record: 93-34 (.732)
  • Number of seasons coached: 9
  • NBA Championships: 4
  • Coach of the Year: 1

4. Pat Riley

Widely known as the head coach of the “Showtime Lakers”, Pat Riley is for reason considered one of the best coaches in NBA history. Being able to maximize the potential in duos of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Lakers, Riley won with them 4 rings in the 80s. The same recipe gave him a result in the Miami Heat, where he won the championship in 2006 with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade. Alongside the 5 championships that he won as a head coach, he was able to win an additional two as the Heat team president in 2012 and 2013.

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 1210-694 (.636)
  • Playoff record: 171-111 (.606)
  • Number of seasons coached: 24
  • NBA Championships: 5
  • Coach of the Year: 3

3. Red Auerbach

In his 20-year-old coaching career, Red Auerbach won 9 championships! Nine of them came in the span of just 10 years! The Boston Celtics, led by Auerbach from the bench and Bill Russell on the court were an unstoppable force. As a coaching mastermind, he was an All-Star Eastern Conference head coach for 11 consecutive seasons. What’s more impressive compared to the modern era is that Red Auerbacch had 0 assistant coaches and was doing it all by himself.

Top Stats:

  • Regular season record: 938-479 (.662)
  • Playoff record: 99-69 (.589)
  • Number of seasons coached: 20
  • NBA Championships: 9
  • Coach of the Year: 1

2. Gregg Popovich

Popovich is the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs’ current head coach. He has coached four NBA All-Star players, including Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Popovich won five NBA championships with three different teams – the 1999 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, 2003 NBA Champion New Jersey Nets, and 2014 NBA Champions Miami Heat. Popovich was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 for his coaching career.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .670%
  • Number of seasons coached: 17
  • Winning seasons : 16
  • NBA Championships: Five

1. Phil Jackson

Jackson coached the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers throughout his career. He won NBA Championships with the legendary teams of the Chicago Bulls in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998 – making him the only coach to win championships three times in a row, TWICE. Jackson was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach for these achievements. Which makes him best among the greatest NBA coaches.

greatest NBA coaches

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .704%
  • Number of seasons coached: 20
  • Winning seasons : 13
  • NBA Championships: Eleven


There you have it – the ten greatest NBA head coaches with the most impressive basketball records in history! These NBA coaches (and some even former players!) turned heads as they led their teams to championships and earned themselves a spot on this list of greatest NBA coaches ever. We hope our blog will be helpful for anyone interested in learning more about these NBA legends or who would like some interesting reading material during downtime at work or school. So what do you think? Who is your favorite NBA coach?

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