- Green Street - http://greenstreet.weei.com -

Top Celtics Turned Coaches

This week Kevin McHale [1] returned to the bench as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves [2]. 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 [3] 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 [4] squad in 2008.

Larry Bird [5]: 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 [6] against the Los Angeles Lakers [7] (32-20 postseason). Three years after stepping down as head coach, he returned to the Pacers front office as Team President.

Rick Carlisle [8]: Currently coaching the Dallas Mavericks [9], his third team in seven seasons. Held a record of 281-211 (.571) entering this season after leading the Detroit Pistons [10] and Indiana Pacers [11] 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 [12] (774-522 regular season, 81-57 postseason).

Don Nelson [13]: The outspoken Golden State Warriors [14] 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 [15]: 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 [16].

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 [17]. 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 [18], 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