greatest NBA coaches
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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!

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greatest NBA coaches

10. John Kundla

Kundla was the first NBA coach to win multiple championships with different teams. He coached in both the NBA and BAA (Basketball Association of America) throughout his career, eventually winning six NBA championship titles and one NBL (National Basketball League) Championship title. His most notable accomplishment is coaching the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA Championships from 1949-1954 – a record that still stands today! Kundla also won an NCAA championship at the University of Minnesota in 1944; this makes him the only basketball player/coach ever to win both an NBA and NCAA national championship.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .679%
  • Number of seasons coached: 12
  • Winning seasons: 11
  • Playoff appearances made: 14
  • NBA Championships: Six

9. Red Holzman

Holzman coached the NBA’s New York Knicks from 1967-1982, leading them to two NBA Championships. He is one of only three coaches in NBA history to have won both an NBA and ABA Championship title (the other two being Alex Hannum and Bill Sharman). Holzman was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986 for his coaching career.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .599%
  • Number of seasons coached: 11
  • Winning seasons: Six
  • Playoff appearances made: 12
  • NBA Championships: Two

8. Rudy Tomjanovich

Tomjanovich coached the NBA’s Houston Rockets from 1992-2003, leading them to two NBA Championships. He also won a bronze medal as part of the USA men’s basketball team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. His nickname is “Rudy T.” because his college coach said he reminded him of former New York Knicks player and Hall of Famer, Earl (the Pearl) Monroe. Tomjanovich was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 for his coaching career.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .616%
  • Number of seasons coached: 11
  • Winning seasons: Six
  • Playoff appearances made: 12
  • NBA Championships: Two

7. Chuck Daly

Daly coached the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, and Orlando Magic throughout his career. He won two NBA Championships with Michael Jordan in 1990 and 1993 while coaching the Chicago Bulls – he also coached the NBA Dream Team that year. Daly was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994 for his coaching career.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .596%
  • Number of seasons coached: 16
  • Winning seasons: 12
  • Playoff appearances made: 14
  • NBA Championships: Two

6. Lenny Wilkens

Wilkens is the only NBA coach to win over 1000 games with two different teams (the Seattle SuperSonics and Cleveland Cavaliers). He also coached many NBA All-Star players, including LeBron James. Wilkens was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998 for his coaching career.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .515%
  • Number of seasons coached: 22
  • Winning seasons: 16
  • NBA Championships: One

5. Larry Brown

Brown coached the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and Indiana Pacers throughout his career. He won both an NCAA championship at Kansas in 1988 and NBA Championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 – making him one of only four coaches to win a National Championship title and NBA title (the other three being John Kundla, Bill Sharman, and Pat Riley). Brown was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 for his coaching career.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .568%
  • Number of seasons coached: 21
  • Winning seasons: 15
  • NBA Championships: One

4. Pat Riley

Riley coached the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Miami Heat throughout his career. He won an NBA championship with both the Lakers in 1982 and 1985, as well as an NBA Championship title while coaching the Miami Heat in 2006 – he is one of only three coaches to win championships with two different teams (the other two being Alex Hannum and Bill Sharman). Riley was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his coaching career.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .683%
  • Number of seasons coached: 21
  • Winning seasons: 17
  • NBA Championships: Five

3. 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

2. Red Auerbach

Auerbach coached the NBA’s Washington Capitals and Boston Celtics throughout his career. He won an NBA championship with the NBA Champion Boston Celtics in 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 – making him one of only two coaches to win championships with two different teams (the other being Riley). Auerbach was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach for these achievements.

Top Stats:

  • Winning percentage: .688%
  • Number of seasons coached: 17
  • Winning seasons : 16
  • NBA Championships: Nine

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

Conclusion

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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