Top 10 best NBA coaches of all time 2021

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Players in any modern game have always been the ones on the receiving end of praises and accolades, and thank to the football governing bodies that have began to recognize the importance of coaching in the aspect of their games – coaches can now dream of been the best among themselves while they set up their players to achieve even more greater in the future as well as present times. 

In fact, if there’s anyone that deserve the highest praise in any team and in any sport, it should be the coach for obvious reasons – they set the team play in such a dynamic form and set their team to achieve at the very best level. Even in the recently concluded NBA season, the importance of Giannis Antetokounmpo is been credited with the resurgence and domination of the Bucks but it was the coach that dictate the game play with the set up according to the opposition weakness – which will in turn ensured run of victory for his team despite going against the NBA betting odds to surprise the Phoenix Suns in the all-conference final.



However, there have been many great coaches that have come and gone, so many coaches have come to change the game play in the league, so many coaches came and dominated the league like a lion in the jungles but only 10 coaches out these great coaches receive praise as the greatest ever based on what they brought to the game in their time.

An innovator, an inventor to a basketball approach and one of the greatest manger of the game – it is such a shame that a genius like Nelson couldn’t have won any NBA trophy with all the team he coached in his impressive 31 years of active coaching in the league. In fact, he hold the record of the most NBA win in the rich history of the league – only if he could have coach just of the best talent in the history of the NBA, the story could have well been change.



But, irrespective of his inability to win any medal as the head coach in the game, he managed to win the best best coach on three occasion in 1983, 1985 and 1992. He might not have the luxury of coaching the best players, while managed his player to nearly perfection but his number as the all-time winner in history with an outrageous 1335 win in 31 years of NBA career itself is sufficient to be among the greatest manager ever.

2. John Kundla

The first ever coach of the Minneapolis Laker in NBA, the American college basketball coach and a professional NBA coach didn’t just became the first coach of Minneapolis Lakers but also guide his team to an impressive feat of winning the NBA championship in five occasions in six years. Although, his team will only contain six future Hall of Famers, but nothing can be taken away from an incredible general that led his soldier to so many victories while he was commanding his troops to different strategies in NBA battles between 1949-1955.



The American international have an impressive winning record of 423 victories. He was also the coach of four all-stars team, an incredible feat for a coach that never won best coach in his prime despite boasting of stars in his rank – but nothing can be taken away from the leader that guide his player right to better his achievement. Even Phil Jackson had to be mercy of superstars to achieve his feat in the NBA.

3. Lenny Wilkens

A Hall of Famer as a coach and as a player, the coach is only surpassed by the legendary Don Nelson as the only coach with the most win the rich history of the NBA. But despite his rich Hall of Fame attribute, the legendary could only have won the NBA for just once in his over-stretching coaching career that runs for 32 years in the game.



Despite winning the coach of the year in 1994 while leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an impressive win, but guiding Seattle SuperSonic to an outstanding final without winning the NBA on two occasions could pull a trauma stance to a coach that always set his team to win a marches he set his mind on despite having 53.6% winning record in NBA. In fact, his 32 years of active coaching involves him leading the franchise like Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Seattle supersonic, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors.

4. Red Holzman

While he was a privilege to coach two main teams in the NBA throughout his active coaching carer, the American international could only succeed with New York Knicks on two occasions in 1970 and 1973 campaign despite leading the Knicks for an outrageous 15 years while his other active year’s was for the St. Louis Hawks.



Even, at his two championship feat, the NBA coach inching champion could only manage 696 victories during his active time as a coach in NBA. But he could achieve the feat of winning the coach of the year on just an occasion – which is arguably enough to cement his place among the greatest coach ever in the rich history of the NBA. He is however known to coach the NBA all-stars on two occasions.

5. Larry Brown

Larry Brown

The only coach in the history of NBA to win NCAA with Kansas Jayhawks in 1988 and NBA title with Detroit Pistons in 2004, and beyond the double standard achievement, the American international is the only coach to have coached eight different team to the playoff in NBA – but could only be the best coach in NBA in 2001when he was leading Philadelphia 76ers. More so, he remains the game greatest teacher as he always finds a way to improve just about any team he led except the lost course New York Knicks in 2006.



However, his ability to improve his team is as sumptuously see his insatiable desire to see his team in a manner at which the game should be played. But he remains the only coach in the history of the NBA to have over 1500 wins throughout his career as college ABA and NBA head coach.  A perfectionist, a morale booster and an innovator to see the beautiful game of basketball more artistically.

6. Chuck Daly

In what would always be remembered as an impressive 17 coaching career years, coach Daly led Cleveland Cavaliers in 1982, while he coached Detroit Pistons from 1983 till 1992 before guided the original dream team of United State to Olympic victory in Barcelona, he further coached New Jersey Net from 1992 till 1994, before he finally led Orlando Magic from 1997 to 1999.



More so, out of his NBA coaching duties, Daly only won with Detroit Piston in 1989 and 1999, a back-to-back NBA championship victory couldn’t have been better for a coach that never won any coach of the year award during his active coaching 15 years. Chuck Daly had an average win of 59.8% while having 564 winning records to a whopping 379 loosing on his watch.

7. Pat Riley

From 1981 to 2008 is such a long and stretched 24 years coaching career for an enigmatic coach who set his sight on winning on almost every time. The American international coached the Los Angeles Laker, New York Knicks and Miami Heat, and in his time, the former LA Lakers won the NBA championship on five occasions – with an outrageous 1210 victories to 694 defeats in his time leading the each NBA with a winning percentage of 63.6%.



Apart from five times NBA victories, Riley won the the best of the year three times in 1990, 1993 and 1997, but what make Pat Riley a great was the fact he in led just about all the three team he ever coached in his 24 NBA years to playoff on yearly basis except the last year of his career. To be awarded a Chuck Daly lifetime achievement by the NBA coach association itself speak volume of his contribution to the NBA history as winner and innovator who always find a way to win – he is definitely worth been on the list of the greatest coach to ever coach in NBA.

8. Gregg Popovich

Serves as the head coach to the NBA team All-Stars on four occasions, won five NBA titles with a single club, an average of 50 wins for 20 seasons, three times best coach of the year on a record of three times and an impressive over 1300 wins in the NBA and many more, Popovich is just more than a coach to the NBA history and culture – he is a manager, a leader, a visionary and a template to the incoming generation of coaches while he is the longest-serving coach to a single franchise.



While he managed to lead his San Antonio Spurs to more than fifteen playoffs while creating a balance between a need for balance in a team that have an heavy fixture on yearly basis is beyond an ordinary capabilities for someone that started his tenure at Spurs controversially. Gregg Popovich in his 25 year as the leader of San Antonio Spurs team has created a thread of leaders in his team.

His style of leadership and mentorship, shaped the way the rookie gel with the team while the drafts have their ways to a better future in the team. No wonder he found a way to always qualify for the playoff on nearly every season while he is with Spurs – he is on course to be the coach with the most win in the history of NBA while he is currently on over 1300 win to his name. He arguable turn the fortune of San Antonio spurs around.



9. Red Auerbach

Winning a fascinating 16 NBA championship titles for the Boston Celtics but won 9 NBA titles as a coach of the franchise in an outrageous manner of winning the 9 titles in a space of 10 years while winning eight of the nine titles consecutively is behind an explanation for an ever-competitive league like NBA. Though, he could only won one coach of the year award during this time – but he eventually retired as the highest winning coach.

He had 938 wins at 6.62% winning records until Don Nelson and co came into play after his retirement. Res Auerbach in any list of most influential none-player in the history of NBA will always be at the top except the best coach in the history of NBA which is reserved for the great Phil Jackson whom his achievement can’t be overlooked.



10. Phil Jackson

Big talents come with big egos and Jackson did not only managed these sets of players throughout his career but turn them to winner while he earn their respect and dedication. Although, many would argue that he manage bigger talent than any other in the history of the NBA but his ability to manage such crops of the player is an achievement on its own.

However, Jackson in his rich career managed only two franchises while he was privileged to coach the likes of Micheal Jordan, Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant among the greatest player of all time he coached, but he managed to have an average winning record of 70.3% at 980 victories despite having the highest playoffs win with 193. The former LA Lakers coach won 11 NBA championship title while winning 5 with the aforementioned team and 6 with Chicago Bulls.



He only managed to win the coach of the year once in 1996. With series of achievements and winning record, Phil Jackson is undoubtedly the greatest coach to have ever grace the history of NBA, and beyond his achievement his ability to coach the unorthodox and modern era and keep his players motivated is enough to buttressed his winning ability and talent to earn respect from such big ego during his time as a coach in the game.



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