The 5 Best NBA Coaches Ever

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When the New York Knicks named Phil Jackson their newest team president, he officially kicked off the next chapter of his Hall of Fame NBA career. Jackson started as a player with the Knicks and the New Jersey Nets, and then moved to coaching in 1983 with the Albany Patroons, a low-level team in New York. As his coaching career progressed, Jackson became one of the best in the game — his strategic mind and calm demeanor made him so.

Then Jackson retired in 2011, having coached the Los Angeles Lakers for more than ten years. He left on top, and as a professional coach, that is a difficult task. Coaches are let go it seems like on a whim. Even the coaches who win and find some success sometimes don’t last because it’s not enough success. Being a coach in the NBA (or any professional league) is a cutthroat industry, and Jackson was one of the greats. And in honor of the future Hall of Fame coach’s tenure, here’s a list (barring people without at least 200 games under their belt) of the winningest coaches in the history of the NBA.

Source: Keith Allison, flickr

Source: Keith Allison / flickr

1. Phil Jackson, .704

If we look at Jackson’s coaching career in a nutshell, he’s won seven out of every ten games he’s coached — that’s pretty impressive. While his career as a team president and member of the front office still remains to be seen, Jackson did no wrong as a coach. Whether it was the six championships he won as the head coach for the Chicago Bulls in the ’90s — granted he did have Michael Jordan — or his five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson proved during his twenty years on the bench that he had what it took.

But what was that? It wasn’t that Jackson always had the best teams (though it seemed that way). Sure, his teams were relatively star studded, but his ability to mold the players, despite who they were, made him a Hall of Fame coach. Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman weren’t an easy trio to coach, but Jackson turned them into one of the best ever. He also had the daunting task of eliding two star players (Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal), which resulted in a three-peat championship between 1999-2002. Jackson’s ability to win consistently at different places is the major reason he’s No. 1 on this list: He can manage a team, not just coach it.

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