Sports

The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated August 6, 2020 49.3k votes 8.3k voters 73.6k views 76 items

List Rules The greatest NBA coaches in history

It's no surprise that some of the best NBA players of all time go on to become some of the best NBA coaches ever, and this list of the all-time greatest NBA coaches is testament to that fact. These men helm some of the greatest sports franchises in the sports world and are able to consistently coach the best performances from their players.

What makes somebody the greatest NBA coach ever? That's a pretty subjective question to answer. Are the top NBA coaches the ones in charge of the NBA teams with the best defense? Or the NBA teams with the best offense? Are they the ones who can reign in a team of superstar athletes and get them to play nice together? Are the best NBA coaches the coaches with the best win-loss record? Or are the greatest NBA coaches simply the coaches with the most NBA championship rings?

Who is the best NBA coach of all time? You decide! Some of the NBA's famous basketball coaches on this list have been around longer than others, but the point of this list of the all-time top NBA coaches is to determine which NBA coach had the best run whether they were in charge of a team for 2 years or 20. If you don't see your favorite NBA coach on this list of the all-time best NBA coaches, make sure to add his name so he can vie for the top spot of the best NBA coach ever.
list ordered by
1
Gregg Popovich is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 70

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: East Chicago, Indiana

Teams Managed: San Antonio Spurs

2
Phil Jackson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 74

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Deer Lodge, Montana

Teams: New York Knicks, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets

More Phil Jackson 

#27 of 106 The Greatest Lakers of All Time #58 of 163 The Smartest Professional Athletes #1 of 23 The Best Lakers Coaches of All Time, Ranked

3
Red Auerbach is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Dec. at 89 (1917-2006)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

4
Pat Riley is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Pat Riley Age: 74

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Rome, New York, United States of America

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns

More Pat Riley 

The Best Pat Riley Quotes #384 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

5
Jerry Sloan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 77

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: McLeansboro, Illinois

Teams: Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Bullets

More Jerry Sloan 

#164 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #65 of 213 The Best White Players in NBA History #77 of 148 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings

6
Chuck Daly is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Dec. at 79 (1930-2009)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: St. Marys, Pennsylvania

More Chuck Daly 

#5 of 13 The Best Magic Coaches of All Time, Ranked #1 of 31 The Best Pistons Coaches of All Time, Ranked #23 of 93 The Best Detroit Pistons of All Time

7
Larry Brown is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 79

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Teams Managed: SMU Mustangs men's basketball

Teams: Denver Nuggets

More Larry Brown 

#626 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #42 of 51 The Greatest UNC Tar Heels Basketball Players of All Time #21 of 124 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time

8
Steve Kerr is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
koh-smoger added Age: 54

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon

Teams Managed: Golden State Warriors

Teams: Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns

More Steve Kerr 

#166 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #31 of 32 The Best NBA Shooting Guards of the 90slisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

9
Bill Russell is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 85

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: West Monroe, Louisiana, United States of America

Teams: Boston Celtics, Boston Celtics

More Bill Russell 

#10 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #21 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #344 of 433 The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History

10
Rick Carlisle is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 60

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Ogdensburg, New York

Teams Managed: Dallas Mavericks

Teams: Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets

More Rick Carlisle 

#158 of 213 The Best White Players in NBA History #87 of 133 The Best Boston Celtics of All Time #9 of 30 The Best NBA Coaches Right Now

11
Lenny Wilkens is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 82

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Teams: Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Seattle Supersonics, Seattle Supersonics, St. Louis Hawks

More Lenny Wilkens 

#513 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,230 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #59 of 148 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings

12
Don Nelson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Don Nelson Age: 79

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Muskegon, Michigan

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards

13
John Wooden is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
tom-charbono added John Wooden Dec. at 100 (1910-2010)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Hall, Gregg Township, Indiana, United States of America

More John Wooden 

#330 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #278 of 433 The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History #1 of 124 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time

14
Larry Bird is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 63

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: West Baden Springs, French Lick Township, Indiana, United States of America

Teams: Boston Celtics, Boston Celtics, Indiana State Sycamores men's basketball

More Larry Bird 

#3 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #18 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #137 of 243 Celebrities Who Should Run for President

15
Mike Krzyzewski is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
cwaldo1 added Age: 72

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Teams Managed: Duke Blue Devils men's basketball

More Mike Krzyzewski 

#2 of 124 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time #1 of 68 The Best Current College Basketball Coacheslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

16
Rudy Tomjanovich is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 71

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Hamtramck, Detroit, Michigan

Teams: Houston Rockets

More Rudy Tomjanovich 

#280 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #79 of 213 The Best White Players in NBA History #93 of 135 The Best Small Forwards of All Time

17
Erik Spoelstra is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
angelo-parco-de-mesa added Age: 49

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois

Teams Managed: Miami Heat

Teams: Portland Pilots men's basketball

More Erik Spoelstra 

#8 of 30 The Best NBA Coaches Right Now #1 of 6 The Best Miami Heat Coaches of All Time, Ranked #1 of 6 Best Miami Heat Coaches of All Time

18
Doc Rivers is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 58

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

Teams Managed: Los Angeles Clippers

Teams: New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Hawks

More Doc Rivers 

#177 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #42 of 150 The Greatest Point Guards in NBA History #27 of 27 The Best '90s Point Guards

19
George Karl is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 68

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, United States of America

20
K. C. Jones is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
wiabux added Age: 87

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Taylor, Texas

Teams: Boston Celtics

More K. C. Jones 

#148 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #15 of 133 The Best Boston Celtics of All Time #70 of 150 The Greatest Point Guards in NBA History

21
Jerry West is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 81

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Chelyan, West Virginia, West Virginia

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Lakers

More Jerry West 

#21 of 729 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,458 of 1,820 The Best Athletes Of All Time #4 of 213 The Best White Players in NBA History

22
Jeff Van Gundy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 57

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Hemet, California

23
Mike D'Antoni is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
zgmoney added Age: 68

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Mullens, West Virginia

Teams: St. Louis Hawks, Kansas City Kings

24
Jack Ramsay is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
wiabux added Dec. at 89 (1925-2014)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

25
Rick Adelman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 73

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Lynwood, California

Teams: Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Kansas City Kings, New Orleans Jazz