Who are the 10 most successful NBA coaches in league history?

Who are the 10 most successful NBA coaches in league history?

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:00 PM

The former head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, Phil Jackson, has won eleven NBA championships, the most in NBA history. He won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers, making him the most successful NBA coach. In addition, he won multiple titles with two different teams making him the best in history.

Greatest NBA coaches in league history
Michael Jordan (L) holds the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy, and former Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson holds the NBA champions Larry O'Brien trophy. Photo: Jeff Haynes
Source: Getty Images

Erik Spoelstra has only been a head coach for over a decade, and Steve Kerr has only seven full seasons of head coaching experience. Nonetheless, they made the NBA's list, and because of the cultures each man instilled and the banners they've hung, they're high on ours as well. This article will provide the top-10 most successful and respected NBA managers.

Most successful NBA coach.

According to the most recent publications, this list contains the most successful NBA coaches.

10. Larry Brown

Tenth most successful NBA coach in league history
Memphis Tigers assistant coach Larry Brown gives direction during the game between SMU and Memphis on February 20, 2022, at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, TX. Photo: George Walker
Source: Getty Images

Larry Brown is the only coach in basketball history to win both an NCAA and an NBA title. In addition, Larry Brown turned the Nets, Spurs, Clippers, and Pacers, all longtime losers, into winners.

He again made it to the top in 2004, when he led the Pistons to a championship over a Lakers squad that had four future Hall-of-Famers. After that, Larry Brown had one of the most illustrious basketball careers, amassing almost 1,300 wins.

9. Chuck Daly

Top 10 NBA coaches of all time
New Jersey Nets coach Chuck Daly on the sidelines during the game vs Orlando Magic. Meadowlands, New Jersey, 3/4/93 Photo: John Iacono
Source: Getty Images

The Lakers and Celtics battled it out in the 1980s, with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird leading the way for both teams. However, until 1988, the Pistons and Chuck Daly made the finals and won two championships in 1989 and 1990.

8. K.C. Jones

most successful black NBA coach
Head coach K. C. Jones of the New England Blizzard confers with his team during a game against the Colorado Xplosion at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Brian Bahr
Source: Getty Images

K. C. Jones was a nine-year basketball veteran who won eight championships with the Boston Celtics. Jones wasn't a flashy scorer as a player. Instead, he was probably the best perimeter defender of his era, helping stop Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. As Beantown's No. 1, K. C. Jones won five Eastern Conference titles and two championships, earning a reputation as the ultimate player's manager, always willing to listen to his players' advice.

7. Red Holzman

Seventh most successful NBA coach
Head coach Red Holzman of the New York Knicks during an NBA basketball game circa 1978, at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Photo: Focus on Sport
Source: Getty Images

Red Holzman, who coached the Knicks for 14 consecutive seasons from 1968 to 1982, was a steadying presence in New York. In 1970 and 1973, Holzman won two titles in New York City and one manager of the Year award.

He coached his Knicks team through the stress of the world's largest media market. He treated officials, the media, and his players with class wherever he went. As a result, his men absorbed his calm demeanour, which helped them win two championships.

6. Jerry Sloan

best NBA coaches of all-time ranker
Coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz looks on during the NBA Western Conference Finals at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The Jazz defeated the Lakers 96-92. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn
Source: Getty Images

Jerry Sloan was Gregg Popovich before San Antonio. From 1989 to 2003, he led the Jazz to 15 consecutive postseason appearances. Sloan, like “Pop,” preferred the quieter life of a small town to the glitz and glamour of a big city.

Jerry Sloan never won a championship, but he stayed with one organisation for over three decades, amassing 1,221 wins while coaching his teams with his solid defensive understanding and knowledge of the pick and roll. Sloan would have had at least one banner hanging in Utah if he hadn't faced Jordan, the greatest player ever.

5. Steve Kerr

NBA coaches winning percentage
In Atlanta, Georgia, the Head Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors' second half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on March 25, 2022. Photo: Todd Kirkland
Source: Getty Images

Our top four managers have at least double Steve Kerr's regular-season wins, and that matters. But Kerr delivers where it counts. He has five championships with three chips and a.694 winning percentage. So the Miami Heat are currently first in the Eastern Conference with a 636 winning percentage, which is nearly 100 points below Steve Kerr's career mark.

Steve Kerr has coached some of the best players of our age in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. Still, he managed the Warriors to five straight finals appearances, an achievement that is practically unfathomable when you consider the physical and mental hardship.

4. Pat Riley

NBA coach with most wins including playoffs
President Pat Riley of the Miami Heat addresses the media during the introductory press conference in Miami, Florida, on September 27, 2019. Photo: Michael Reaves
Source: Getty Images

In the 1980s, Pat Riley led the Lakers to four championships. He led the New York Knicks to the finals in 1993-94, where they lost to the Houston Rockets in a hard-fought series.

Pat Riley had the privilege of coaching legends like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal, and Dwyane Wade.

No coach has ever changed their style of play like Riley. With Johnson at the helm, he let the Showtime Lakers loose. When Riley arrived in New York in the early 1990s, he used Ewing as his offensive focal point. Finally, Pat Riley's half-court style allowed Shaq and Wade to pick apart teams for 24 seconds.

3. Gregg Popovich

Most winning NBA coach of all time
During the second half of a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on February 11, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia, Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Photo: Casey Sykes
Source: Getty Images

Famous sideline interviews by Gregg Popovich. "I used to enjoy watching him humiliate the unfortunate in-game reporter. They would approach “Pop” with trembling knees and fearful eyes. But, of course, the game was better than watching Popovich pummel some poor analysts trying to do their job."

He led the Spurs to the playoffs for 22 seasons, winning five titles and setting the standard for wins for all managers worldwide.

2. Red Auerbach

Most respected NBA coach
General Manager Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics smokes a cigar behind the bench before an NBA basketball game circa 1970. Auerbach was the General Manager from 1967 to 84. Photo: Focus on Sport
Source: Getty Images

Red Auerbach is well known for winning eight consecutive championships in Beantown while wearing a fantastic hat and chewing a cigar. Auerbach persuaded his talented Boston sides to put their stats aside and play team basketball. So while Wilt Chamberlain became one of America's most recognised athletes, Bill Russell controlled his game and did what it took to win.

Oh, and Red Auerbach did it all alone. But during his time in Boston, the NBA's second-longest winning head coach had zero head coaches to assist him, let alone trainers and other modern basketball staff.

1. Phil Jackson

Most successful NBA coach of all time
Phil Jackson attends the Sacramento Kings vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on December 4, 2016. Photo: James Devaney
Source: Getty Images

So, who is the most winningest NBA coach? Phil Jackson has won 11 NBA championships, the most of any manager in history. Jackson is the three-peat king. There were three championships with the Chicago Bulls from 1991 to 1993, then three more with the Windy City Bulls from 1996 to 1998, before taking his coaching talents to Hollywood.

He won three more with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000 to 2002, completing a perfect triple-triple. Then, in 2009 and 2010, he added two more titles to his trophy case in Los Angeles.

Phil Jackson has the best regular-season winning percentage (.704) and the most wins (1155). In 1995-96, he led the Chicago Bulls to their second-best regular season ever (72-10).

Most successful NBA player and coach

Bill Russell only had a.540 winning percentage as a head manager. Yet, he shattered barriers and won two championships, doing most of his damage while still playing at a high level.

Most successful black NBA coaches

Bill Russell was the first Black coach in professional sports in the United States. Russell's achievements in the late 1960s opened the doors. As time has passed, that crack has continued to widen, allowing the next generation of Black managers to work diligently toward their first head coaching opportunities.

Who is the greatest coach of all time?

Bill Belichick is the most outstanding head manager in NFL history, without a doubt. He is a three-time Super Bowl-winning head manager as his New England Patriots won three out of four Super Bowls from 2000 to 2004, which is now considered an NFL dynasty. That makes him one of the most successful NBA coaches of all time.

READ ALSO: Who is the highest-paid player in the Premier League as of 2022?

Sportsbrief.com revealed some of the highest-paid players in the Premier League. There is no doubt that the English Premier League produces most of the world's wealthiest footballers.

Since Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the League, there have been debates about the highest-paid player. As a result, most EPL footballers' salaries have been boosted, so find out more about the highest-paid player in EPL here.

Kevin Omuya photo
Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.