Top 5 NBA Players Turned Coach

min read
Doc Rivers talks to the referee in an NBA game in December 2016.
(Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Dec 05, 2023, 1:48 AM
  • Here’s a list of the top five NBA players turned coach.
  • Jerry Sloan leads the list.

In today’s NBA era, more than half of the head coaches in the league, 16 to be exact, are former NBA players, which testifies that their basketball knowledge and experience are vital in the current state of today’s game. This basketball wisdom is a big part of their bid to connect with their players and make them onboard to the system which they will implement to the team, thus eventually improving their NBA championship odds.

However, several legendary NBA players failed to translate their on-court success to the sidelines as only a slim percentage in the basketball odds give them the chance to prosper as a head coach. In contrast, other former players who only had decent roles from their former teams have successfully led them as head coach.

Today, we will be looking at the top five former NBA players who turned coaches.

Larry Bird

Larry Bird had a hall of fame career in his 13-year career with the Boston Celtics. He won three championships, including two NBA Finals MVP awards, three regular-season MVP honors and a Rookie of the Year accolade in 1980. Five years after retiring, he assumed the head coaching post for Indiana in 1997 and led the team to three straight Eastern Conference stints, including an NBA Finals appearance in his last year in 2000. Overall, he tallied an impressive record of 147 wins and 67 for three seasons. Bird was true to his promise to only coach for three years.

Jerry Sloan

Before becoming one of the most famous NBA coaches in the league, Jerry Sloan played for the Chicago Bulls for 11 seasons from 1965 to 1976, where he was selected for two NBA All-Star appearances in 1967 and 1969. Shortly after he played for the team, he was hired to coach the Bulls in 1979, but due to three unsuccessful years, he was fired in 1982. Then, the Utah Jazz tapped him to be its head tactician. During his 23 seasons tenure there, Sloan became one of the winningest coaches in NBA history with 1,221. Also, he was able to lead them to two trips in the NBA Finals but was ironically beaten by his former team, the Chicago Bulls.

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr is relatively new to head coaching with only eight seasons so far with the Golden State Warriors, but his credentials are good enough to be a hall of famer even if he decides to call it a career. Kerr has helped the Warriors win three NBA titles in five tries. He currently has a total of 415 wins against 184 losses and can end up in the top five winningest coaches of all time if he can sustain this rate. As a player, Kerr also collected five championships with the Chicago Bulls (1996, 1997 and 1998) and the San Antonio Spurs (1999 and 2000).

Kevin McHale

Kevin McHale is a Boston Celtics legend who won three NBA titles and two Sixth Man of the Year awards in his 13-year career. He was also selected in seven NBA All-Star appearances and one All-NBA 1st team. McHale started his coaching duties in 2005 for the Minnesota Timberwolves for only one season. Then in 2012, he was signed by the Houston Rockets to guide them to contention, and McHale led the franchise to two playoff berths in 2013 and 2014 before stepping down from the position in 2015. The ‘’Black Hole’’ collected 232 wins and 185 losses in over five years of coaching experience.

Doc Rivers

Four years after his last playing year in the NBA, Doc Rivers was tasked to coach the Orlando Magic in 1999. He led them to three postseason appearances, but all of which were first-round exits. After his time with the Magic, Rivers transferred to Boston, where he delivered a championship in 2008 and an Eastern Conference title in 2010. After nine seasons in Boston, he jumped to Los Angeles and became the Clippers’ coach until 2020, before finding himself with the Philadelphia 76ers. As of the moment, Doc Rivers is the tenth winningest NBA coach in history with 1,023 wins and can surpass Rick Adelman’s win tally this year.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.