Basketball is a sport that is all about coaching. A great coach can take a mediocre team and turn them into winners with the right offensive and defensive schemes. The sport of basketball has seen a lot of excellent coaches over the years, and most of them spent the majority of their careers in the NBA. These are the four greatest NBA coaches of all-time.
There is no denying that Phil Jackson is the greatest NBA coach of all-time. He led his team to 11 championships in only 20 years of coaching. His .704 winning percentage is also the second-best in NBA history for anyone with more than 400 games coached. Jackson excelled at managing the egos of superstar players, which helped him always get the best out of his team.
The only other NBA coach that can come close to matching the success of Phil Jackson is Red Auerbach. While he coached three teams during his 20-year career, all nine of his championships came with the Boston Celtics. Eight of these titles came in consecutive years, which is a feat that will never happen again in professional sports. Auerbach was years ahead of his time and the inventor of the modern fast break offense.
Greg Popovich has spent the last 24 years as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. During his time with the team, Popovich has led them to 1,277 wins and five NBA championships. It should only take two more years of coaching for Popovich to retire as the winningest coach in NBA history. There may not be a basketball coach in the history of the sport admired by his players and peers more than Greg Popovich.
Pat Riley’s brash style may have rubbed many people the wrong way, but there is no denying his skills as a basketball coach. Riley is one of only five NBA coaches with at least five championships. His 1,210 wins are fifth all-time in league history. His three NBA Coach of the Year awards are more than any other coach. The most impressive feat in Riley’s long career is the 22-year gap between his first and last NBA title.