First place was taken by none other than Phil Jackson – with 58 percent of all votes, he is the poll’s winner. Jackson won 11 NBA championships, six with the Chicago Bulls, five with the LA Lakers. And, he also has two championships as a player, with the NY Knicks.
Next comes, surprisingly, Larry Bird with 18 percent, who enjoyed his own share of success – he served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. Bird led the Pacers to a 58–24 record – the franchise’s best as an NBA team at the time—in the 1997–98 season, and pushed the Bulls to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year, becoming the only person in NBA history to have won both the MVP and Coach of the Year awards. He then led the Pacers to two consecutive Central Division titles in 1999 and 2000, and a berth in the 2000 NBA Finals.
Third place was taken by Pat Riley, who gathered 13 percent of all votes. Riley is regarded as one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time. Riley is the first North American sports figure to win a championship as a player, coach (both assistant and head), and executive. He received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award from the NBA Coaches Association on June 20, 2012. Riley won an NBA championship as a player, and five champioships as the head coach.
Fourth place belongs to George Karl (with 9 percent). Karl never won an NBA title, but he will forever be remembered as the head coach of the talented Seattle Supersonics team, that he coached through 1991–98, leading them to the NBA Finals in 1996 where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games. In all seven of his seasons in Seattle, the team made the postseason, winning three division titles, and eclipsing the 50-win mark in every year that he was coach for a full season.
Fifth place is Don Nelson’s, with 2 percent of total votes. Don Nelson played in the NBA himself, but is more famous for his coaching. He was named coach of the year in the NBA three times, despite never winning an NBA championship. He was named one of the Top 10 coaches in NBA history.
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