The NBA has become a league that revolves around star players who come together to create super-teams. However, the role of coaches in a team’s success and failure can’t be overlooked. An elite coach has almost become a pre-requisite for becoming a championship team. With that in mind, we thought it’d be appropriate to give credit to some of the best coaches the NBA has had since the turn of the century.
Carlisle often gets categorized as a good but not great NBA coach. However, he’s quietly become one of the most accomplished coaches of the past 20 years. He took two different teams to the Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons, which is no small feat.
Carlisle was also at the helm when the Mavericks finally won an NBA championship. Despite some struggles in recent years, he’s had an excellent run in Dallas.
Granted, he’s only been a head coach since 2014, but it’s hard to argue with Kerr’s accomplishments thus far. Not too many coaches win three NBA championships in their first four seasons. Plus, the one year that he didn’t win the title, he led Golden State to an NBA record of 73 wins during the regular season.
Obviously, things are a little easier with Stephen Curry and a great supporting cast. But Curry was a star before Kerr got to Golden State but didn’t win a title until Kerr was calling the shots.
With just one NBA championship as a coach, Rivers probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He made a mediocre Orlando team a playoff team and then turned the Celtics into NBA champions and a perennial Eastern Conference power.
Rivers is now in the process of doing the same thing with the Clippers. At every stop, Rivers has coached a winner and his consistency should not be overlooked.
You didn’t think we’d forget about this guy just because he’s been out of coaching for a few years. Technically, Jackson has won five NBA titles since 2000, leading the Lakers to a three-peat from 2000 to 2002. He won two more later in his time in Los Angeles and reached two more NBA Finals in between.
Jackson is arguably the best coach of all-time, although he loses some points here because he hasn’t done any coaching since 2011. Fortunately, we won’t hold his time as president of the Knicks against him.
Whether you like him or dislike him, there are a lot of words that you can use to describe Popovich. But you can’t argue with the results. Since 2000, he has taken the Spurs to the playoffs every year, won four NBA championships, and been NBA Coach of the Year three times.
The players on San Antonio’s roster have changed a lot over the last 20 years. But Popovich remains a constant and is undoubtedly the most accomplished and reliable coach in the NBA since 2000.