Current Date: 1 Dec, 2023

Top 10 Most Famous Basketball Coaches of all time

The top coach on a coaching staff in the NBA is known as the head coach. They are often paid more than assistant coaches and are more prominent. Basketball coaching follows any sport's principles, tactics, and procedures. 

An ideal coach recognizes each player's specific skills and shortcomings and uses each, even the weaknesses, to the team's advantage—ultimately, to victory. It was said that a competent coach would help his players focus on their potential rather than their limitations.

James Naismith, a Canadian-American physical education director (born November 6, 1861, Almonte, Ontario, Canada—died November 28, 1939, Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.), created basketball, at the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School, later Springfield (Massachusetts) College, in December 1891.

Naismith excelled in several sports and studied theology when he was younger. As a result, Luther Halsey Gulick, Jr., Springfield's director of physical education, hired him as an instructor in the fall of 1891.

Afterward, the first basketball coach was an American named James Naism. He taught basketball to his soldiers as a National Guard chaplain serving the First Kansas Infantry Regiment to help them manage their extra energy. This tactic not only raised the soldiers' morale but also decreased incidents of indiscipline. 

The original games used half-bushel peach baskets as targets, so a stepladder was required to fetch the ball back after a few goals. The existing regulations of Naismith's game, which limited physical contact and forbade walking or running with the ball, are still the foundation of a sport that has gained worldwide popularity.

His impact has birthed modern-day basketball, and numerous coaches have kept the basketball spirit alive, coaching top basketball players of all time.

Basketball coaches such as V Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, and Don Nelson are just a few of the many who have contributed to the growth and success of the sport. In this article, we'll look at the top ten basketball coaches. Below is a list of them.  

Phil Jackson 


Teams Coached 

  • Los Angeles Lakers 
  •  Chicago Bulls

Phil Jackson (born September 17, 1945) is one of the NBA's most successful coaches, with the league's best win-loss record (1155 - 485). From 1989 until 1998, he was the Bulls' head coach for nine years, guiding them to 6 NBA championships. 

He departed the Bulls in 1998 to become the head coach of the L.A. Lakers, where he served from that year until 2010. Under his leadership, the Los Angeles Lakers won 5 NBA championships.

Jackson, with his 2 NBA wins won while a player, owns the record for the most NBA titles won, with 13. He was known as the "Zen Master" because of the holistic, Eastern-influenced instruction he provided.

Along with his 11 championships, Jackson is best remembered for popularizing Tex Winter's triangle offense, which he employed significantly during his coaching tenure. Philip Douglas "Phil" Jackson, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, is known for his sports accomplishments.


As evidence, he has won nine championships as a coach. No one can dispute his achievements, even if he has had the four most significant historical players in Jordan, Pippen, Shaq, and Kobe. In his 18-year career, he had a remarkable record of 980-418. Also, he has the highest-ever winning % (.703) throughout his career.

As a head coach and a player, Jackson has won the most NBA championships. The highest winning percentage among NBA head coaches belongs to him (.704).


His 193 playoff victories are the most. In addition, he was named Coach of the Year during the 1995–96 NBA season. He still has the opportunity to win additional championships because he is currently the head coach of the Lakers, one of the league's top teams. Finally, in 2007, he received his induction into the Hall of Fame.

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Red Auerbach


Teams coached 

  • Boston Celtics
  • Tri-Cities Blackhawks
  • Washington Capitols

Arnold Jacob "Red" Auerbach (Born on September 20, 1917, and died October 28, 2006), regarded as the most successful team official in the History of North American professional sports, is better known as the "pioneer of modern basketball."

It is well known that he reimagined basketball as a team sport and a defensive sport. In addition, he was the one who first popularized the basketball offensive tactic known as the "quick break."

The NBA's Godfather, as a coach and an executive for over 30 years, was the face of the Boston Celtics. During his coaching career, he guided the Celtics to a fantastic nine championships, including an unbelievable eight straight titles from 1959 to 1966.

He had a winning percentage of.659 and an overall record of 823-426. Also, he has a 91-60 lifetime postseason record with a.603 winning %. In 1965, he also won the NBA Coach of the Year Award. In 1969, he was finally admitted to the Hall of Fame.


Many basketball players who were eventually admitted into the "Basketball Hall of Fame" were effectively developed by Auerbach. For example, when Auerbach selected Chuck Cooper, the first African-American NBA player, he broke down racial barriers in the league.

As a coach, Auerbach led numerous teams to basketball triumphs, including the Boston Celtics, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, and the Washington Capitols. But, for many people, his unprecedented move of lighting a cigar before every game that he believed he would win quickly became "the ultimate symbol of triumph." 

So when the "NBA Coach of the Year Award" was renamed the "Red Auerbach Trophy" in 1967, it was another achievement for him. Among his other honors include his and the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America's recognition of him as the greatest NBA coach ever.

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Chuck Daly


Teams Coached:

  • Detroit Pistons
  • New Jersey Nets
  • Orlando Magic
  • Cleveland Cavaliers

American basketball coach Charles Jerome "Chuck" Daly, born on July 20, 1930, and died on May 9, 2009, coached in the NBA for 14 seasons. In 1983, the Detroit Pistons appointed him as their head coach. 

Under Daly's leadership and supervision, the Pistons became the first to win back-to-back NBA titles. During Daly's leadership, they participated in the playoffs yearly, made it to the NBA Finals three times, and won two straight championships (1989 and 1990).

Daly started coaching basketball in 1955 and is remembered for coaching the Dream Team to the men's basketball gold medal at the Summer Olympics in 1992. His career record of 564-379 (.598) ranks him ninth in percentage among all NBA coaches and thirteenth overall.

Daly led the Pistons to back-to-back championships in the late 1980s. In his 14-year coaching career, he earned a 638-437 record and a.593 winning %. He was also in charge of the 1992 U.S. men's basketball team, the Original Dream Team. He was finally accepted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. 


The U.S. Dream Team's gold-winning head coach from the 1992 Olympics. He guided the Detroit Pistons to two back-to-back NBA titles.


Bill Fitch


Teams Coached

  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Boston Celtics
  •  Houston Rockets
  • New Jersey Nets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • North Dakota
  • Bowling Green
  • Minnesota

William Charles "Bill" Fitch is a man of numerous accomplishments. However, he is best known for being a success story that turned clubs into postseason contenders throughout his coaching career. 

In addition, heIn addition, he was a successful baseball coach, a drill teacher for the US Marine Corps, and a former head coach of the National Basketball Association.

Fitch was notorious for being hired to save struggling clubs throughout his time as an NBA coach and was also effective at it. As a result, his teams consistently advanced to the postseason. So naturally, he was frequently employed to attempt to fix underperforming teams.

Fitch finished his tenure as an NBA coach with 944 victories, for fifth place overall among all coaches. Still, he also had 1106 losses, good for second place behind Lenny Wilkens.

Under Fitch's direction, the Boston Celtics won the NBA title in 1981. In addition, he was named one of the NBA's Ten Coaches of All-Time In 1996.


Red Holzman


Teams Coached

  • New York Knicks
  • Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks
  • Ponce Lions (Puerto Rico)

NBA Coach of the Year Award (1970); two NBA Championships (1970, 1973); three Eastern Conference Championships (1970, 1972, 1973); three BSN Championships (1964, 1965, 1966); and two NBA All-Star Game coaching titles (1970, 1971)Red Holzman, who led the New York Knicks from 1920 to 1998, is best recognized for that role (1967 – 1982).

He led the Knicks to an NBA single-season record-breaking 18-game winning run, shattering the previous mark of 17 games established in 1946. He was a head basketball coach with a 696–604 win–loss record.

He accumulated 613 victories during his 15 years as the New York Knicks head coach. The team retired number 613 in Holzman's honor to coincide with the victories they have accrued while playing under his direction.

In 1985, Holzman's name was added to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition, the New York Knicks have retired the number 613 in Red Holzman's honor, representing his victories as head coach.


Throughout the 1970s, Holzman served as the Knicks' head coach. He coached for 16 seasons, compiling a 696–604 record. In 1970 and 1973, he guided the Knicks to two championships. 

In 1969, he also directed the Knicks to a winning streak of 18 games, a then-record. Ultimately, he was chosen for the Hall of Fame in 1985 after receiving the Coach of the Year Award in 1970.


John Kundla 


American NBA head coach John Kundla, also known as John Albert Kundla, was born on July 3, 1916. He is most known for leading the Lakers. He resigned as the Minneapolis Lakers' head coach to take the Minnesota Gophers job, which he held for nine years until retirement.

It's fascinating that Kundla first declined the Minneapolis Lakers' offer to serve as their head coach since he needed to be more impressed with their professional standing. Afterward, a pay raise was all it took to get him on board as head coach. 

The Lakers he coached won five titles in six years, making him the coach of the NBA's first dynasty. When he took over the Lakers at age 31, he was also one of the youngest coaches in history.

His performance as the basketball team's head coach is distinguished by a regular season win-loss record of 423-302 and a postseason record of 60-35. The pinnacle of Kundla's professional career was his 1955 induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 

John Kundla was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.


Don Nelson


Teams Coached

  • Golden State Warriors
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • New York Knicks
  • Milwaukee Bucks


Don Nelson (Donald Arvid "Don" Nelson), a well-known innovator who was born on May 15, 1940, introduced the idea of "point forward" to basketball. Every team currently uses this tactic. One of his record-setting runs involved passing Lenny Wilkens for the position of NBA player with the most victories ever (1335).

He was the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, and New York Knicks. Nelson, who has an overall win-loss record of 1335–1063, is renowned for his unconventional and avant-garde approach to basketball.


He is credited for developing the "Hack-a-Shaq" defense tactic, widely used in the NBA. Nelson accepted an invitation to lead Dream Team II at the Toronto 1994 FIBA World Championship. 

He accepted the invitation, helping the group win the gold medal. Don Nelson broke Lenny Wilkens' record in 2010 and won the most NBA titles as a head coach, earning him the top slot on the list of all-time winningest coaches in the NBA.


Jack Ramsay


Teams Coached

  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Buffalo Braves
  • Saint Joseph's Hawks
  • Indiana Pacers

John T. "Jack" Ramsay is a former basketball coach who is more frequently called "Dr. Jack" because he is a doctoral holder. His management of the Philadelphia 76ers, who won the NBA championship in his first season with them, marked the beginning of his professional career.

After graduating, he became the head coach of the Buffalo Braves for a brief but unsuccessful period. Nonetheless, his subsequent position as the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers was fruitful for him and the group. 

The team had never advanced to the playoffs or claimed a championship in its six-year history. However, they won their lone NBA championship under Ramsay's direction.

His outstanding win-loss record of 864-783 (.525%) propelled him into the top ten basketball coaches in NBA history. Ramsay was the second-winningest NBA coach in history when he retired in 1988-89. In 1992, he was admitted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 


Pat Riley


Teams Coached

  • Miami Heat
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • New York Knicks

Former basketball player and coach Patrick James "Pat" Riley is now a professional basketball executive in the United States. Pat Riley, currently the team president of the Miami Heat, is widely recognized as one of the all-time greatest NBA coaches and had a very successful run as a head coach in the NBA. 

In 1996, he was listed as one of the top ten coaches in the History of the NBA. His most recent accomplishments were the Miami Heat's NBA titles in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Riley received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award. 

His incredibly successful coaching career includes nine times serving as the team's head coach for the NBA All-Star Game (eight times with the Western Conference team and once with the Eastern Conference team).

Riley has consistently maintained a fantastic win-loss record, going 171-111 (.606) in the postseason and 1210-694 (.636) overall. He has also won the coach of the NBA All-Star Game nine times (1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993)

As a player, assistant coach, head coach, and executive, Pat Riley is North America's first and only sports legend to have won an NBA title. Riley was the "Showtime" Lakers' head coach in the 1980s. He has coached the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat for 24 years and has five titles (four with the Lakers and one with the Heat). 

Also, he has a record of 1210-694, winning games at a remarkable—636 clip. In 1990, 1993, and 1997, he triumphed three times as the NBA Coach of the Year. Except for his final season with the Heat, he guided his club to the playoffs every season. With 171, he is second in playoff victories.


Lenny Wilkens


Teams Coached:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Seattle SuperSonics
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Toronto Raptors
  • New York Knicks


From the 1994-1995 season through the 2009-2010 season, Leonard Randolph "Lenny" Wilkens, a former basketball player and retired American National Basketball Association (NBA) coach, recorded the most victories in the history of the NBA. Also listed among the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History is Wilkens.

After finishing his playing career in 1975, Wilkens started coaching with the Trail Blazers, with whom he had previously served as a trainer. He later served as head coach of the SuperSonics, who won 11 of their 12 games while playing under his direction. 

His eight-year tenure as Seattle's head coach was capped by the city's lone NBA championship in 1979. Wilkens retired with an outstanding 1332-1155 win-loss record during the regular season, becoming the first coach to exceed 1,000 career victories. 

In addition, Lenny Wilkens has been inducted three times—once as a player in 1989, once as a coach in 1998, and once as a member of the 1992 American Olympic "Dream Team"—into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Basketball coaches who can lead their teams to delicious victories while teaching them how to handle defeat are effective. He is the one who instills in the team members the virtues of sportsmanship, teamwork, good communication, respect, and a positive attitude, and he does so beyond the context of the sport.


In terms of victories as an NBA head coach, Wilkens holds the record. He coached the Sonics, Blazers, Cavs, Hawks, Raptors, and Knicks throughout his 32 seasons as a head coach. 

He has a winning percentage of.536 and a record of 1332-1155. In the late 1970s, he also twice guided the Sonics to the championship game, winning it in 1978–79. In addition, he led the Cavaliers to 57 victories and was named Coach of the Year for 1993–94.




Excellence Chukwuma Chukwunaedu

Excellence Chukwuma Chukwunaedu

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