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Top Celtics Turned Coaches

12.09.08 at 8:45 am ET

This week Kevin McHale returned to the bench as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is the 27th former Boston Celtic to trade in his jersey for a clipboard and coach in the NBA. Here is a look Celtics-turned-head coaches who found success calling the plays (in alphabetical order):

Danny Ainge: Led the Phoenix Suns to a 136-90 record (.602) over three-plus seasons as head coach. He found success in the regular season but failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs (3-9). That’s all a distant memory since building a world champion Boston Celtics squad in 2008.

Larry Bird: Returned to Indiana in 1997 to coach the Pacers for three seasons (147-67, .687). Reached the Eastern Conference Finals each season and made it to the 2000 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers (32-20 postseason). Three years after stepping down as head coach, he returned to the Pacers front office as Team President.

Rick Carlisle: Currently coaching the Dallas Mavericks, his third team in seven seasons. Held a record of 281-211 (.571) entering this season after leading the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. Looking to surpass the .500 mark (30-32) in the playoffs with the Mavs this season.

Tommy Heinsohn: Coached the Boston Celtics to two NBA Championships in eight full seasons, including five consecutive Eastern Conference titles (427-263 regular season, 47-33 postseason). Heinsohn coached the Celtics with the same intensity he exuded as a player, and today shares that passion as one of the team’s television broadcasters.

K.C. Jones: Won eight championships with the Boston Celtics before pursuing a lengthy coaching career, spanning nearly 20 years. Jones coached the Celtics to a total of four Eastern Conference and two NBA titles in the 1980s. He also coached the Washington Bullets and Seattle SuperSonics (774-522 regular season, 81-57 postseason).

Don Nelson: The outspoken Golden State Warriors head coach has been calling the shots since 1976. He has only coached four organizations during that time and compiled a 1280-954 record heading into this season, making him the second-most winning coach in NBA history. Despite his regular season success, the three-time Coach of the Year has never made it to the NBA Finals.

Bill Russell: Following Red Auerbach’s retirement, Russell became the player-coach of the Boston Celtics in 1966. Russell, the first African-American coach professional sports, led the Celtics to two consecutive world championships both on and off the court. In three seasons he posted a record of 162-83 with the Celtics before going on to coach the Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings.

Bill Sharman: The Hall of Famer coached the Los Angeles Lakers to a record 33 consecutive wins during 1971-72 season en route to an NBA Championship. After coaching he was named Lakers General Manager, leading them to two NBA titles and also drafting Magic Johnson. As a coach, he introduced the concept of a gameday morning shootaround to prepare the players for that night’s match up.

Others include:
John Bach, Carl Braun, Quinn Buckner, M.L. Carr, Don Chaney, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Chris Ford, Ed Macauley, John McCarthy, Kevin McHale, Horace “Bones” McKinney, Joe Mullaney, Andy Phillip, Tom Sanders, Fred Scolari, Paul Silas, Sam Vincent, Paul Westphal

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