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The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated December 4, 2019 47.5k votes 7.9k voters 71.8k views 71 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

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#1 of 30 The Best NBA Coaches Right Now #1 of 13 The Best Spurs Coaches of All Time, Ranked

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, United States of America

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

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#57 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, USA

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

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#537 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time The Best Pat Riley Quoteslisted 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

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#144 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #56 of 239 The Best White Players 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, USA

Teams Managed: SMU Mustangs men's basketball

Teams: Denver Nuggets

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#10 of 124 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time #6 of 25 The Greatest Jewish NBA Players 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

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#296 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #62 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA Historylisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

9
Rick Carlisle is listed (or ranked) 9 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

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#146 of 239 The Best White Players in NBA History #60 of 132 The Best Boston Celtics of All Time

10
Bill Russell is listed (or ranked) 10 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

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#26 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #10 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #289 of 290 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

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

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#1,423 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #542 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #58 of 151 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: Gregg Township, Hall, Indiana, United States of America

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#139 of 438 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

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#56 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #13 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time

15
George Karl is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 68

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: USA, Penn Hills, Pennsylvania

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

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#342 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #9 of 30 The Best NBA Coaches Right Now

17
K. C. Jones is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
wiabux added Age: 87

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Taylor, Texas

Teams: Boston Celtics

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#114 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #62 of 158 The Greatest Point Guards in NBA History

18
Erik Spoelstra is listed (or ranked) 18 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

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#18 of 30 Who Will Be The 2019 NBA Coach Of The Year? #1 of 6 The Best Miami Heat Coaches of All Time, Ranked

19
Rudy Tomjanovich is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The All Time Greatest NBA Coaches
Age: 71

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Hamtramck, Detroit, Michigan

Teams: Houston Rockets

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#394 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #77 of 239 The Best White Players in NBA History #91 of 135 The Best Small Forwards of All Time

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

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#2 of 124 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time #34 of 49 The Most High Strung Coaches in College Sportslisted 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

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#27 of 878 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #3 of 239 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: Italy, 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