Sports

The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 5, 2020 49.1k votes 8.2k voters 73.4k views 83 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 

#28 of 107 The Greatest Lakers of All Time #52 of 179 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 #377 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

5
Chuck Daly is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Dec. at 79 (1930-2009)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: St. Marys, Pennsylvania

6
Jerry Sloan is listed (or ranked) 6 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 

#159 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #64 of 243 The Best White Players in NBA History #88 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History

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 

#609 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #42 of 51 The Greatest UNC Tar Heels Basketball Players of All Time #20 of 126 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 

#163 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #28 of 243 The Best White Players in NBA Historylisted 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 

#11 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #28 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #5 of 168 The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time

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 

#159 of 243 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 

#538 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,250 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #47 of 162 The Greatest Point Guards in NBA History

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 

#344 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #236 of 438 The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History #1 of 126 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 

#4 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #18 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #131 of 256 Celebrities Who Should Run for President

15
Rudy Tomjanovich is listed (or ranked) 15 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 

#285 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #78 of 243 The Best White Players in NBA History #92 of 137 The Best Small Forwards of All Time

16
Doc Rivers is listed (or ranked) 16 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 

#175 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #44 of 162 The Greatest Point Guards in NBA History #27 of 27 The Best '90s Point Guards

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
George Karl is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 68

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, United States of America

19
K. C. Jones is listed (or ranked) 19 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 

#135 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #15 of 133 The Best Boston Celtics of All Time #70 of 162 The Greatest Point Guards in NBA History

20
Mike Krzyzewski is listed (or ranked) 20 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 126 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time #1 of 71 The Best Current College Basketball Coacheslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

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 

#15 of 870 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,498 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #4 of 243 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
Jack Ramsay is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
wiabux added Dec. at 89 (1925-2014)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

24
Mike D'Antoni is listed (or ranked) 24 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

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