Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked | What are their biggest achievements?

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked | What are their biggest achievements?

Winning the NBA championship requires more than great talent. It would help if you also had an exceptional coach. Besides mastering their X's and O's, they also shape and motivate players to be better athletes and team players. Discover the best NBA coaches of all time in this read!

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Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Discover the top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked and their biggest achievements in this read. Photo: @thunder_nation_412
Source: Instagram

The NBA league has produced many influential figures throughout its existence. Although some may not be alive, their titles, wins, and other accomplishments are forever cherished. So, who is the greatest NBA coach of all time? Join us as we rank the best NBA coaches of all time as per most sources and different NBA lists of their top coaches.

Who are the best NBA coaches of all time?

Our list of the best NBA coaches of all time ranks the heroic men who have shaped the future of basketball in one way or another. We have ranked them among the highly ranked mentors based on their work ethics, culture, records, and banners.

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1. Phil Jackson

The 28 best NBA coaches of all time
Phil Jackson is ranked the goat of all the best NBA coaches in history with 11 titles to his name. Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage
Source: Getty Images

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Who is the goat NBA Coach? It must be Phil Jackson. He was an NBA Head Coach for 20 seasons and had the most rings in NBA history. So, how many rings did Phil Jackson have as a coach?

He had 11 titles and ranked 7th all-time with a regular-season won-loss record of 1,155-485 (. 704) and first postseason with 229-104 (.688). Therefore, he is considered the goat of the greatest NBA coaches of all time.

2. Red Auerbach

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time
Red Auerbach might be known for smoking cigars in the court but he has a record of 8 titles in a row. Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Red joined the Celtics as a head coach in 1950 and remained with the team until his death in 2006. He is famous for winning 8 titles in a row in Beantown as he stomped up and down the sidelines smoking a cigar and rocking his fabulous hat. He is also ranked one of the best coaches in NBA history.

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3. Gregg Popovich

28 best NBA coaches of all time
Greegg Popovich is ranked among the best NBA coaches of all time due to his winning record. Photo: @thenbaconnoisseur
Source: Getty Images

Gregg secured his first NBA victory in 1996 and has a career record across 26 seasons. However, his milestone victory is projected in his career.

So, how many wins does Gregg Popovich have as a coach? His San Antonio 104-102 win saw him get 1,336 regular-season wins.

4. Pat Riley

Riley is the only trainer ever to have been named the NBA coach of the year three times and for three different teams. So, how many championships did Pat Riley win as a coach? He won four NBA championships in Los Angeles, including the back-to-back campaigns in 1987 and 1988.

5. Steve Kerr

Best NBA coaches of all time
Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors is ranked among the best NBA coaches of all time for leading his team to numerous wins. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Steve is an eight-time champion who has won three titles as a head coach with the Warriors. So, how many wins did Steve Kerr have as a head coach? He had 376 victories and holds the best postseason record in league history with a winning percentage of .733.

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6. Jerry Sloan

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Former head coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz is also among the highly ranked NBA coaches of all time. Photo: Otto Greule /Allsport
Source: Getty Images

Sloan is one of the best NBA coaches. He is the only NBA mentor to record 1,000 wins with the same franchise and one of only three to win at least 50 games in 10 or more seasons.

7. Red Holzman

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time and their biggest achievements
Red Holzman is one of the best NBA coaches of all time and has even been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Photo: @thelazyhustler
Source: Instagram

Red's final record was 696 wins and 604 losses as a mentor. He retired with the second-most career victories as a mentor in the league’s history. He was also elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985.

8. Lenny Wilkens

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time
Lenny Wilkens, the coach of the 1979 Seattle Supersonics basketball team, is ranked as one of the best coaches in NBA history. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Lenny is one of the best coaches in NBA history. He was a mentor for 32 seasons with a record of 1332-1155 and a winning percentage of .536. He won the 1993-94 Coach of the Year Award and led the Cavaliers to 57 wins.

9. Chuck Daly

Best NBA coaches of all time
Former Head coach Chuck Daly of the Detroit Pistons has also been ranked among the top NBA coaches of all time. Daly coached the Pistons during 1983-91. Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Daly was the mentor who led the Pistons to back-to-back titles in the late '80s. He recorded a 638-437 record and a .593 winning percentage as a mentor. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.

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10. Rudy Tomjanovich

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Former head coach Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets had a successful coaching career filled with wins. He coached for the Rockets from 1992 to 2003. Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Rudy had a successful 13-year career as the Rockets and the Lakers' mentor with a 527-416 record and a winning percentage of .559. He also led the 2000 U.S. Men's basketball team that won the gold medal.

11. John Kundla

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time
John Kundla (center) is best known for leading the Lakers to five championships in six years. Photo: DAVID BREWSTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The Minneapolis Lakers trainer for 11 seasons had a total record of 423-302. However, he is best known for leading the Lakers to five championships in six years. In addition, he has coached six Hall of Famers and has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

12. Larry Brown

28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Assistant coach Larry Brown of the Cincinnati Bearcats is the only NBA coach to have won an NCAA title and an NBA championship. Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Brown is the only NBA mentor to have won an NCAA title and an NBA championship. In addition, he was named the ABA Coach of the Year three times (1973, 1975, and 1976).

So, is Larry Brown in the Hall of Fame? Yes, he is. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

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13. Erik Spoelstra

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time
Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat has been ranked among the top coaches of all time in NBA history. Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Erik is perhaps known as an NBA mentor with multiple rings. So, how many wins does Erik Spoelstra have as a head coach? He holds the franchise postseason records for 71 victories.

14. Doc Rivers

Best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers is famous for leading the Celtics to a championship in 2008. Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Doc Rivers is best known for his defence, a character he carried over into his mentoring career. So, what is Doc Rivers's record as a coach? He has 1,000 wins and 706 losses over 23 seasons with different teams and led the Celtics to a championship in 2008.

15. Jack Ramsay

28 best NBA coaches of all time
Former Head coach Jack Ramsay of the Indiana Pacers had many wins and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

By the time Jack left the Pacers, he was second on the all-time wins list for NBA coaches with 864 wins. By his retirement, he was reported to have the most combined college and professional wins of any mentor. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

16. Don Nelson

28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Don Nelson, former Head Coach for the Dallas Mavericks, was one of the most creative NBA coaches. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Although Don never won a championship, he was a creative mentor and had the most regular-season wins in the NBA's history. He invented the "Nellie Ball", a move that never saw his team into the finals, but it did leave a lasting impression in the league.

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17. Bill Fitch

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Former Coach Bill Fitch of the New Jersey Nets had numerous wins and has been ranked among the best coaches NBA of all time. Photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Bill Fitch is also among the best NBA coaches ranked. However, his mentoring style was different as he encouraged his players to meditate. It was pretty ironic because Fitch was a former U.S. Marines Corps drill instructor known for screaming until his face turned blue.

Although his methods would not work today, he had one championship, a regular-season record of 944-1,106 (.460), and a postseason record of 55-54 (.505). He won 944 games back in the 70s and 80s.

18. Bill Russell

28 best NBA coaches of all time
Bill Russell is one of the top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked with 11 championships. Photo: @realbillrussell
Source: Instagram

After succeeding Red Auerbach, Bill Russell became the first black head coach in major U.S. professional sports. Did Bill Russell win any rings as a coach? He won 11 championship rings in 13 NBA seasons.

19. Dick Motta

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time
Former Head coach Dick Motta of the Dallas Mavericks is best known for leading the Washington Bullets to their first championship. Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Dick Motta's biggest mentoring moment was in 1978 when he led the Washington Bullets past the Seattle SuperSonics to their first and only NBA Championship. His regular-season record is 935-1,017, and he has a postseason record of 56-70 (.444).

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20. George Karl

George Karl has been employed by the NBA, CBA, and Spain's Liga ACB. Although he has no NBA championships, he holds a regular-season record of 1,175-824 (.588) and a postseason record of 80-105 (.432).

21. Billy Cunnigham

Billy was one of the fiercest competitors as a player and mentor. He reached the 300 and 400-win milestones faster than any mentor in the league's history. He led Philadelphia to the playoffs every year and advanced to the finals three times.

22. Mike D'antoni

28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked
Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets may have no championship to his name but he is well known for his many wins. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Mike D'Antoni is among the few mentors in the league who changed how the game is played. His inventive "Seven Seconds or Less" offence in Phoenix supercharged the pace of play and left a mark. Although he holds no NBA championships, he boasts of a regular-season record of 672-527 (.560) and a postseason record of 54-56 (.491).

23. Tom Heinsohn

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked and their biggest achievements
The late Tom Heinsohn is also one of the top 28 best NBA coaches of all time. He was famous for being a 10-time champ. Photo: @everydayafamousdies
Source: Instagram

Tom holds several awards to his name. He is a 10-time NBA Champion, eight as a player and two as a head coach. In addition, he was named the 1973 Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

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24. Rick Carlisle

28 best NBA coaches of all time
Head coach Rick Carlisle of the Indiana Pacers holds a record of 858 wins in his coaching career so far. Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Rick Carlisle is the mentor of the Indiana Pacers. So, how many coaching wins does Rick Carlisle have? Throughout his 20-year career, Rick has reported 858 wins, 20 being from Detroit Pistons.

25. Bill Sharman

28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked and their biggest achievements?
Bill Sharman is one of the 28 best NBA coaches of all time ranked. He is one of the two NBA coaches to win NBA and ABA Championships. Photo: @billsharman21
Source: Instagram

Sharman is one of the two mentors in the league to win NBA and ABA Championships. He is famous for leading the 1971-72 Lakers to 33 consecutive wins and the franchise's first title in 19 years.

26. Mike Budenholzer

Best NBA coaches of all time plus their biggest achievements
Head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks is well known for winning four championships as a longtime assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Mike started his mentoring career as an assistant coach. By the time he became head mentor, he had picked numerous tools and tips along the way. So, how many rings does coach Budenholzer have? He has won four championships as a longtime assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs.

27. Rick Adelman

28 best NBA coaches of all time
Head coach Rick Adelman of the Minnesota Timberwolves is another coach ranked among the best NBA coaches of all time. Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Rick Adelman holds a coaching record of 1042-749, with 50 or more wins, 11 times in his 23 seasons. Perhaps his best coaching record was in 1991, when the Blazers finished with 63 wins.

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28. Tyronn Lue

Top 28 best NBA coaches of all time
Head coach Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers is among the ranked top 28 best NBA coaches of all time. Photo: Harry How / Staff
Source: Getty Images

Tyronn Lue is the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. So, how many rings does Tyronn Lue have as a coach? His best record throughout his 11-year career was 51-31 in the 2016-17 season.

The National Basketball Association has produced legendary players and coaches. In this read, we have saluted 28 of the best NBA coaches of all time as ranked by most sources and past NBA lists of their top coaches.

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