It’s not always the case that the best players make the best coaches later in life. Experience has got to count for something though, and these former NBA stars made it both as players and as coaches. They made winning their specialty on the court and off it inspired their players to do great things.
As a coach there has been no person in the NBA to match the impressive 11 titles Phil Jackson won throughout his career. He was the man picking the team when Jordan was at the peak of his powers and he oversaw the Kobe era for the Lakers He wasn’t just a great mind behind the scenes though and Jackson had a pretty impressive career on the court too. Jackson picked up two championship rings as a player for the New York Knicks.
Where Phil Jackson won the majority of his NBA championships as a coach, Bill Russell was the opposite. Russell is one of the greatest players in NBA history thanks to his 11 NBA championships as a player. He also scooped two NBA championships as a coach thanks to his role as player/coach of the Celtics during the 1960s. Russell was one of the first truly outstanding talents in the NBA and his dedication to winning didn’t stop when he was on the court.
In five years as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr has won three NBA championships. Five is the magic number for Kerr because that’s precisely how many NBA championships he won as a player. Firstly Kerr was part of the famous Bulls team of the 1990s where he picked up three rings, before joining the Spurs and winning another two.
Kerr might not have been the most outstanding player on his teams, but his legacy shows he won five rings, which is more than so many other basketball players. If he continues his success he can join the small club of NBA players and coaches who can’t fit all their rings on two hands..
K.C. Jones was one of the standout players from the all-conquering Celtics team of the ‘50s and ‘60s. As a player the point guard took home eight NBA championships but he wasn’t done with winning after he retired. The legendary player took it upon himself to make the Celtics great again in the 1980s and he led them to two NBA championships in a row from 1984 to 1985. Jones was able to get the best out of Larry Bird during the ‘80s and cemented his place as a Celtic legend in the process.
Pat Riley had a relatively short playing career, but was still able to pick up an NBA championship ring in that time. He won his only playing championship with the Lakers, and after retiring went on to make the Los Angeles team a powerhouse of basketball.
Riley took home four championships as head coach of the Lakers during the ‘80s before making a comeback to win his fifth with the Heat in 2006. Riley then moved upstairs and worked as an executive, winning another couple of championships with the Heat in 2012 and 2013.
Winning championships on the court doesn’t always translate to winning as a head coach but these former players couldn’t give up that winning feeling.