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Top 10 NBA Coaches of All Time Rankings

Ranking the greatest coaches of All Time in the NBA

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By Fan Rankings | October 04, 2022 - 10:47 PM

The history of the National Basketball Association is loaded with a long list of great coaches who have helped shape the league into what it is today.

These same great coaches had the opportunity to coach the best basketball players in the world, turn around NBA franchises, lead teams to NBA Championships, and helped turn young men into great men.

As you start to look at the Top 10 NBA Coaches of All-Time rankings list, it is difficult to pick just 10 as many great coaches have stood along the hardwood.

 

One of those great and amazing coaches is the San Antonio Spurs long time head coach Greg Popovich.

Popovich, who helped build the Spurs into one of the greatest dynasties the NBA has seen continues to add wins to his career resume each year.

While Popovich ranks among the best coaches All-Time among the NBA, another great coach is also high among the list is Phil Jackson who also helped build NBA Championship teams over his coaching career. Here is a look at the Top 10 NBA Coaches of All-Time rankings list:




Honorable Mention

Doc Rivers

Team(s): Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers & Philadelphia 76ers

One of three active NBA coaches to land among the greatest NBA coaches and just missing the Top 10 NBA Coaches of All-Time rankings is the great Doc Rivers.

Rivers, who started his coaching career in 1999 has led four different organizations since starting with the Orlando Magic while currently coaching the Philadelphia 76ers.

As a head coach, Rivers has compiled a career record of 1043-735 while posting a .587 career winning percentage.

In addition to the wins Rivers led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Championship during the 2008 NBA season while earning NBA coach of the year the same year.

Accolades:
  • NBA champion (2008)
  • NBA Coach of the Year (2000)
  • 3× NBA All-Star Game head coach (2008, 2011, 2021)




Erik Spoelstra

Team(s): Miami Heat

Another active head coach that lands among some of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA is the Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Spoelstra who has spent his entire coaching career within the Heat franchise ranks tied for 7th in NBA Championships with two and sixth in Conference Championships with five all since taking over in 2009.

Over that stretch Spoelstra has posted a career record of 660-453 heading into the upcoming 2022-23 NBA season.

Accolades:
  • 2× NBA champion (2012, 2013)
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game head coach (2013, 2022)
  • NBCA Co-Coach of the Year (2017)




Top 10 NBA Coaches of All Time

10. K.C. Jones

Team(s): Washington Bullets, Boston Celtics & Seattle SuperSonics

A name that is often looked over as one of the best NBA coaches of All-Time is the former Capital/Washington Bullets, Boston Celtics, and Seattle SuperSonics head coach K.C. Jones. 

Jones has packed up a career .643-win percentage over his head coach career while posting 552 wins compared to 306 losses.

In addition, Jones has led five teams to the Eastern Conference Championships while winning two NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics.

Jones also ranks 4th All-Time in career winning percentage among coaches with at least 600 games coached.

Accolades:
  • 2× NBA champion (1984, 1986)
  • 5× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1975, 1984–1987)




9. Don Nelson

Team(s): Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks & Dallas Mavericks

The long time NBA coaching great Don Nelson ranks among some of the best coaches to ever coach in the NBA.

Over his career Nelson racked up a career record of 1,335-1,063 while finishing his career with a .557 winning percentage.

Over that stretch, Nelson won three NBA Coaches of the Year awards and coached two NBA All-Star teams while also earning a spot among the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History list. Despite failing to win an NBA Championship, Nelson racked up a long list of regular season wins along the way.

Accolades:
  • 3× NBA Coach of the Year (1983, 1985, 1992)
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1992, 2002)




8. Lenny Wilkens

Team(s): Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors & New York Knicks

One of the longest tenured coaches of All-Time, Lenny Wilkens spent over 31 seasons coaching the NBA between six different organizations.

Over that stretch he led five of those six programs to the NBA post season including the Seattle SuperSonics who would win the 1977-78 Western Conference Finals before winning the NBA Championship a year later during the 1978-79 NBA season.

Over those years, Wilkens racked up 1,332 career wins compared to 1,155 losses. Additional accolades include the 1994 NBA Coach of the Year award and four different seasons coaching the All-Star team.

Accolades:
  • NBA champion (1979)
  • NBA Coach of the Year (1994)
  • 4× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1979, 1980, 1989, 1994)




7. Red Holzman

Team(s): Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks, New York Knicks

The former New York Knicks head coach was as good as any head coach over the history of the NBA.

During his time with the Knicks, Red Holzman helped guide the team to two NBA Championships during the 1970 and 1973 NBA seasons while also winning the 1970 NBA Coach of the Year award.

Over his career coaching, Holzman would rack up a career .536 winning percentage after guiding his teams to a 696-603 career record. 

Accolades:
  • 2× NBA champion (1970, 1973)
  • NBA Coach of the Year (1970)
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game Coach (1970, 1971)
  • 3× BSN champion (1964–1966)




6. Chuck Daly

Team(s): Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, New Jersey Nets & Orlando Magic

Just missing the top five on the Top 10 NBA Coaches of All-Time rankings list is the longtime head coach Chuck Daly.

Daly who started his head coaching career in 1981 spent coaching till his final season during the 1998-99 NBA season.

Daly is one of 14 NBA head coaches with at least two NBA Championships and one of only six of those that have won at least 600 career games.

Daly finished his 14-year coaching career with a career record of 637-437 while posting a .593 career winning percentage mark.

Accolades:
  • 2× NBA champion (1989, 1990)
  • NBA All-Star Game head coach (1990)




5. Steve Kerr

Team(s): Golden State Warriors

One of the active coaches on the list of the greatest NBA coaches that has an opportunity to continue rising is the Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Kerr, who won five NBA Championships as a player, has racked up four NBA Championships as the head coach of the Warriors since taking over in 2014.

Over those nine seasons the Warriors have won at least 50 games in six different seasons, at least 67 wins three seasons and 73 wins in one season.

To go along with those wins, the Warriors won the NBA Championship in 2014-15, 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2021-22. Currently Kerr ranks 6th in the history of the NBA with four NBA championships and tied for 3rd with 6 Conference Championships.

Accolades:
  • 4× NBA champion (2015, 2017, 2018, 2022)
  • NBA Coach of the Year (2016)
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game head coach (2015, 2017)




4. Pat Riley

Team(s): Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks & Miami Heat

As you start to look at the top four coaches in the history of the NBA each is well deserving of the top spot. In the end only one of those coaches could take each spot with Pat Riley landing at number four.

The longtime Los Angeles Lakers head coach racked up five NBA Championships, three NBA Coach of the Year awards while leading nine different NBA All-Star teams over the course of his career.

In addition, Riley is just one of four NBA coaches to win at least five NBA Titles with the other three landing at the top three spots.

Accolades:
  • 5× NBA champion (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2006)
  • 3× NBA Coach of the Year (1990, 1993, 1997)
  • 9× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1982, 1983, 1985–1990, 1993)




3. Red Auerbach

Team(s): Tri-Cities Blackhawks & Boston Celtics

Coaching in a different time and generation Red Auerbach was as good as any head coach in the history of the NBA while having one of the greatest players and teams of All-Time.

Auerbach would guide the Boston Celtics to nine different NBA Championships from 1956 to 1966. Over his NBA career, the longtime Celtics coach racked up an 823-426 NBA record to go along with a 91-60 career record in the postseason.

Accolades:
  • 9× NBA champion (1957, 1959–1966)
  • NBA Coach of the Year (1965)
  • 11× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1957–1967)
  • NBA anniversary team (25th, 35th)




2. Gregg Popovich

Team(s): San Antonio Spurs

The longtime San Antonio Spurs head coach who started his NBA coaching career during the 1996-97 NBA season is also one of the most iconic coaches in the history of the sport.

Since taking over the Spurs, the Spurs were one of the most iconic dynasties of the last 90’s and early 2000’s winning five NBA Championships between 1999 and 2014.

The team’s success landed him the head coach of the All-Star team in four different seasons as well as three NBA Coach of the Year awards.

To go along with the five NBA Championships, Popovich has also led the Spurs to six Western Conference Championships to go along with his 701 career wins entering the upcoming 2022-23 NBA Regular Season.

Accolades:
  • 5× NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
  • 3× NBA Coach of the Year (2003, 2012, 2014)
  • 4× NBA All-Star Game head coach (2005, 2011, 2013, 2016)




1. Phil Jackson

Team(s): Chicago Bulls & Los Angeles Lakers

When thinking about the greatest NBA coaches of All-Time the first name that rings a bell is the great Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. Jackson is the only coach to win at least five NBA Championships with two different teams.

Those two teams were his only teams including leading the Bulls to two different Three-Peats (1991-1993, 1996-1998), and the Lakers to five Championships including his third Three-Peat (2000-2002).

In all Jackson won 13 Conference Championships, 11 NBA Championships and posted a career winning percentage of .704 (1155-485). His success guiding those two organizations lands him at number one on the Top 10 NBA Coaches of All-Time rankings list.

Accolades:
  • 11× NBA champion (1991–1993, 1996–1998, 2000–2002, 2009, 2010)
  • 4× NBA All Star Game head coach (1992, 1996, 2000, 2009)
  • NBA Coach of the Year (1996)



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