Fil-Am Erik Spoelstra makes NBA list of all-time top 15 coaches

Erik Spoelstra, the first Asian-American head coach to win an NBA championship, stamps his class as one of the league’s best tacticians

Four active head coaches, including Filipino-American Erik Spoelstra, made the list of the NBA’s 15 all-time greatest coaches, revealed Tuesday, February 8, in conjunction with the league’s ongoing 75th anniversary celebration.

The Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr, the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Doc Rivers, and the Miami Heat’s Spoelstra landed on the list, which was determined in a vote by 30 current head coaches and 13 former NBA head coaches.

Spoelstra, who won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, is the first Asian-American head coach to win an NBA championship.

As the second-longest tenured head coach in the NBA just behind Popovich, Spoelstra earned his 600th win as the Heat coach on April 28, 2021, and also became the sixth head coach in league history to win 600 games with one team,

The NBA all-time list also includes Phil Jackson, who won 11 championships while leading the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, and Red Auberbach, who guided the Boston Celtics to nine titles.

Pat Riley, who steered the Lakers and the Heat to a total of five crowns, was among the honorees. Popovich also has five championship rings.

The top five in all-time coaching victories were all selected: Don Nelson (1,335 wins), Lenny Wilkens (1,332), Popovich (1,330), Jerry Sloan (1,221), and Riley (1,210).

Rounding out the honorees were Larry Brown, Chuck Daly, Red Holzman, KC Jones and Jack Ramsay. Brown is eighth in coaching wins with 1,098, and Rivers is 10th with 1,024.

Kerr, in his eighth year as a head coach, has three championships. Spoelstra has two titles, and Rivers has one, from his time in charge of the Celtics.

Dwyane Wade, who won championships with the Heat in 2005-2006 under Riley and 2011-2012 under Spoelstra, said on TNT, “I always say Pat Riley set the standard, but coach Spo improved on it.”

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