The Lakers can boast of a fantastic history in the game, spanning over seven decades. It is one of the most popular teams in the NBA with 17 NBA championship titles to their credit. Apart from winning the most titles in NBA history (tied with the Celtics), Lakers have featured some of the best players in the game such as Magic, Kobe and Chamberlain.
However, what we often forget is the men behind the scenes. Lakers have had great coaches that have helped shape the team into the formidable force that it is today.
The Greatest LA Lakers Coaches
The coach is like the backbone of the team. Not only is a coach crucial in training the team and ensuring players are at the top of their game but a great coach is also able to unite the team. The coach is able to identify underdog players, help them hone their skills and bring the entire team together to play as one unit.
The LA Lakers have been blessed with some of the greatest coaches of all time such as –
Jackson was a wonderful coach and is still hailed by Lakers’ fans as the best coach in the team’s history. He served the team twice as the head coach; once from 1996 – 2004 and then from 2005 – 2011. During his tenure, the team won 5 NBA Championship titles and appeared in several playoffs. He set a record of winning 610 out of 902 games. He is also credited for creating the offense triangle strategy that become one of the best known Lakers’ move. He also groomed and strengthened players such as Kobe Bryant. Almost a decade later, Phil Jackson is still remembered as the best LA Lakers coach in the team’s history.
Del Harris was at the helm of affairs from 1994 to 1998. He joined the team as the coach at a time when the Lakers were going through a rough patch. They were struggling and Harris helped them reinvent themselves. He is also known to have trained and coached young players such as Bryant and O’Neal and helped them become better at their game. Under his watchful eye, the team went on to play the Western Conference Finals and made it to several back to back playoffs. Harris also had an amazing record of 224 wins over 116 losses.
Sharman is one of the most iconic coaches of the Lakers’ history. He helped the team win their first NBA Championship Title in the year 1972. It was also under his mentorship that the LA Lakers got two of its all-time popular players – Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. Sharman served as the coach for the Lakers from 1971 to 1976 and in his five years with the team, he had a stellar record of 246 wins against 164 losses. During his years as coach, the team appeared thrice in the playoffs and performed exceptionally well in most of the games.
Another iconic coach of the Lakers, Riley served the team for a good nine years. The team won four NBA Championship titles under his training and appeared in playoffs in every year while he was in-charge. Pat Riley came in 1981 as the head coach of the LA Lakers and the team played close to 727 games by the time he left; and, they won an astonishing 533 games in close to a decade. He is remembered as one of the greatest coaches of all time in LA Lakers’ history.
Paul Westhead served as the coach of the LA Lakers for just two years starting from the year 1979; however, he left his mark on the team’s history by leading them to win the title in the year 1980. He also coached the legendary Magic Johnson who was a new talent at that time. Along with Johnson, Westhead started what came to be known as the Showtime Lakers. The team won 111 games and lost 50 games during his tenure as the coach. He eventually left the team after serving for a short period of just two years in 1981.
Though the LA Lakers never won a championship title during the seven years that Fred Schaus served as the head coach of the team, his tenure was definitely a memorable one. He also had a keen eye for identifying talent; he helped put together the team that eventually won the title after his departure from the team. Under his training, the team went all the way till the finals several times; they won 315 games and lost about 245 games in seven seasons of the NBA. While not the NBA title, the team did end up winning the conference title five years in a row.
The LA Lakers is one of the most loved teams across the country. They have given some of the best players of all-time; such as Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain. However, only the ardent fans of the team might know that the Lakers have also had some of the best coaches in the history of the game. From Phil Jackson to Bill Sharman to even Paul Westhead, the LA Lakers have had the guidance of amazing trainers and coaches that have contributed to the team’s glorious history of over seventy years.
Almost a decade has passed since Jackson left the team, however, he is still regarded as the best coach in the Lakers’ history. His popularity is closely followed by that of Bill Sharman. There are have been other coaches as well such as Pat Riley and Del Harris who have left their indelible mark on the team’s history.