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Top 10 Greatest NBA Coaches in History

Who are the greatest NBA Coaches in history? We have ten of the best basketball coaches in the history of the NBA. Let’s scroll down to see who has qualified for the top 10.

Basketball is one of the most-watched and most celebrated sports in America. National Basketball Association (NBA) is the world’s most reputed basketball association. The history of the league is full of many great players and coaches who got magnificent successes in their professional careers. Here in the list, we are just concerning the coaching career of the ten greatest basketball coaches.

Top 10 Greatest NBA Coaches in History

The greatest NBA coaches in history are:

10. Don Nelson

Don Nelson

The list starts with a great American basketball player and coach, Don Nelson. He played professional basketball from 1962 to 1976. After his retirement as a player, Nelson started a great era of coaching in 1976.

Don Nelson is the only coach in the history of the NBA who won the most regular seasons. During his incredible coaching career, he coached Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Golden State Warriors.

Some of his remarkable career highlights are:

  • 3× NBA Coach of the Year (1983, 1985, 1992)
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1992, 2002)
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History

Don Nelson’s wonderful coaching career came to an end in 2010.

9. John Kundla

John Kundla

John Kundla qualified for ninth place on the list of the greatest NBA coaches in history. He was an American college and professional basketball coach.

He started his professional career as a basketball coach in 1946. As a coach, John Kundla served for St. Thomas, Minneapolis Lakers, and Minnesota. His coaching career came to an end in 1968. John Kundla died in 2017 aging 101. Some of his career’s big achievements are:

  • NBL champion (1948)
  • 5× NBA champion (1949, 1950, 1952-1954)
  • 4× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1951-1954)

8. Larry Brown

Larry Brown

Larry Brown is an American basketball coach and former player. He is one of the greatest basketball coaches in NBA history. His coaching career started in 1965 and as of 2022, he is serving as the assistant coach for Memphis Tigers.

Larry Brown is the only coach in basketball history who won both NCAA national championship and an NBA title. His list of achievements as a player and as a coach is enriched with a number of iconic titles. Here are some of his titles as a coach.

  • NBA champion – 2004
  • NBA Coach of the Year – 2001
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game head coach – 1977, 2001
  • 3× ABA Coach of the Year – 973, 1975, 1976
  • NCAA champion – 1988
  • Naismith College Coach of the Year – 1988
  • 2× Big Eight Tournament champion -1984, 1986
  • Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award
  • AAC Tournament winner – 2015

7. Red Holzman

Red Holzman

Another great American former professional basketball player and coach made the list glorious. Red Holzman was one of the greatest basketball coaches in the history of the NBA. The legendary player started his career in 1945. He ended up his career as a professional player in 1954.

Red Holzman started his coaching career the same year he got retirement as a professional basketball player. His duration of coaching period is from 1954 to 1982. The Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, Red Holzman was died in 1998.

Red Holzman’s achievements as a coach are:

  • 2× NBA champion – 1970, 1973
  • NBA Coach of the Year – 1970
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game Coach – 1970, 1971
  • 3× BSN champion – 1964–1966
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History -1996
  • No. 613 retired by New York Knicks – 1990

6. Lenny Wilken

Lenny Wilken

Lenny Wilken is also a former American professional basketball player and coach. He is a great achiever who has been inducted three times into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The American National started his professional career as a player in 1965 and played in the NBA for 15 seasons.

Lenny Wilken started his career as a coach in 1969. His career is full of many successes and titles. Some of the most iconic achievements as a coach are:

  • NBA champion – 1979
  • NBA Coach of the Year – 1994
  • 4× NBA All-Star Game head coach – 1979, 1980, 1989, 1994
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History

5. Gregg Popovich

Top 10 Greatest NBA Coaches in History

Gregg Popovich is an American professional basketball coach who is also the president of the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association. He is one of the most experienced basketball coaches right now. Popovich started his coaching career in 1973.

As a head coach Gregg Popovich has achieved great successes. Some of them are:

  • 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
  • 3× SCIAC champion – 1980–1982

4. Chuck Daly

Top 10 Greatest NBA Coaches in History

Chuck Daly was an American basketball head coach who started his coaching career in 1955. He is also one of the greatest NBA coaches in history. The great achiever, Chuck Daly led the 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team to the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Chuck Daly’s coaching career is also full of successes and achievements. His career ended in 1999 and he died in 2009 aging 78 years. Some of his great achievements are:

  • 2× NBA champion – 1989, 1990
  • NBA All-Star Game head coach – 1990
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History
  • No. 2 retired by Detroit Pistons
  • 4× Ivy League champion – 1971-1974
  • 5× Big 5 champion – 1971-1974, 1977

3. Pat Riley

Top 10 Greatest NBA Coaches in History

Pat Riley is also a great American former basketball head coach and player. As a player, he started his career in 1967 and ended up in 1976. He has won five NBA championships as a head coach.

Pat Riley started his coaching career in 1979. After a long career full of achievements, he ended up his coaching career in 2008. His achievements as a head coach are:

  • 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
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History

2. Phil Jackson

Top 10 Greatest NBA Coaches in History

Phil Jackson is a former American basketball player and coach. He is widely considered one of the greatest NBA coaches in history. Jackson started his professional career as a player in 1967 and played for 12 seasons in the NBA.

Phil Jackson’s coaching career is also long and well experienced. He started his coaching career in 1978 and the journey of success ended up in 2011. The list of his achievements and titles is enriched with many of the iconic basketball titles. Some of them are:

  • 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
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History
  • CBA champion – 1984
  • CBA Coach of the Year – 1985

1. Red Auerbach

Top 10 Greatest NBA Coaches in History

Red Auerbach was an American basketball coach and executive. He is considered one of the greatest NBA coaches in history. The great coach started his professional coaching career in 1940. Probably the most experienced and older on the list of great NBA coaches.

Red Auerbach’s coaching career is also a very rich and successful one. He ended up his career in 1966. The great coach is no more with us. May his soul rest in peace. Some of his achievements as head coach are:

  • 9× NBA champion – 1957, 1959-1966
  • NBA Coach of the Year – 1965
  • 11× NBA All-Star Game head coach – 1957-1967
  • NBA 25th Anniversary Team
  • NBA 35th Anniversary Team
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History

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