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The 10 Greatest NBA Coaches Ever

While the NBA is known for its high-flying superstar athletes, the coaches on the sidelines are the league’s unsung heroes. Whether they’re administering a game plan tailored to their team or managing the egos of young multi-millionaires, the modern NBA coach’s job is never finished. Here are the 10 greatest coaches in NBA history.

Phil Jackson

Bleacher Report

After leading the Chicago Bulls to six titles, the Zen Master moved to Hollywood. There, he guided the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships. Jackson holds the NBA record for most combined championships.

Red Auerbach

Chicago Tribune

Auerbach steered the early Boston Celtics dynasty with a commitment to the fast-break offense. After the NBA incorporated the shot clock, the Celtics won nine titles under Red – including an astonishing seven in a row.

Gregg Popovich

Clutch Points

Pop created the consistent, drama-free, and most importantly, winning culture of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have won five titles during the 20 years he’s been at the helm.

Pat Riley


Although he’s best known for overseeing the glitz and glamour of the ’80s Showtime Lakers, Riley was also a tough and gritty player. He transformed into a great coach in L.A. and Miami, where he won five titles.

Larry Brown

Los Angeles Times

Never someone who loved to stay in one place, Brown is the only basketball coach to win both NCAA and NBA titles. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

Chuck Daly

CBS Atlanta

The leader of the Detroit Pistons during their Bad Boys era, Daly guided the team to consecutive championships in 1989 and 1990. He also coached the original Dream Team to Olympic Gold in 1992.

Lenny Wilkens

Q13 Fox

A member of the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach, Wilkens coached 2,487 games – more than anyone else in NBA history. He led the Seattle Supersonics to his first and only title in 1979.

Don Nelson


Nelson won the most games by any NBA coach, garnering 1,335 victories. He was a pioneer who developed “Nellie Ball,” a fast-break offense that didn’t require a traditional center.

Jerry Sloan

Los Angeles Times

A tough defender during his playing days, Sloan brought that grittiness to his role as a coach for 23 seasons with the Utah Jazz. He won over 1,200 games with the Jazz, most with Hall of Fame duo Karl Malone and John Stockton.

George Karl

The Sacramento Bee

Karl shuttled between the CBA and NBA for years before finding success with the Gary Payton-Shawn Kemp Supersonics in the ’90s. He finally received a coach of the year award in 2013 and he’s one of nine coaches with 1,000 wins.

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