If you’re a fan of the L.A. Lakers, you probably already know that your team’s had some of the best NBA players of all time.
From Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal, many famous names have graced the court in yellow and purple.
But what about the coaches? Who are the Kobes among leaders and mentors for the Lakers?
After all, they’re responsible for nurturing the talent that brings so much success to the team.
Here are just a few of the best head coaches in Lakers’ history. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s a collection of the greats!
1) Phil Jackson
You know Phil Jackson. Everyone knows Phil Jackson. This Hall of Famer is widely considered one of the best basketball coaches of all time, and he carved part of his award-winning tenure with the Lakers.
Under his leadership, the Lakers won a staggering 610 games, which is still a record for a single coach. He also guided the team to five championships and seven finals. Three of these championships were in consecutive years (2000 – 2002), giving their opponents the impression that they were a truly unstoppable juggernaut.
It’s hard to argue with a track record like Jackson’s. Even if you want to hate the guy for whatever reason, his stats speak for themselves.
2) Pat Riley
Pat Riley is another well-known name to Lakers fans, and he’s the undisputed #2 when it comes to wins. He led the team to seven finals and four championships. For extra oomph, two of those championships were against the Boston Celtics, the Lakers’ bitter rivals.
Riley also holds the distinction of besting Jackson, the usual #1 in Lakers stats, in one particular area: His win ratio is 73%. That’s more than any other coach in Lakers history.
3) Paul Westhead
Do you remember Magic Johnson? If so, Paul Westhead was the coach that guided him to his first NBA championship back in 1980.
Reportedly, their relationship was contentious, and this might have been why Westhead didn’t last more than a few seasons with the Lakers. However, he had an impressive 68% success rate, winning a full 111 out of 161 games. You can’t argue with that championship ring, either!
4) Bill Sharman
If you don’t know Bill Sharman, it’s time to brush up on your Lakers history. He was the coach that took them to their very first championship victory after moving to Los Angeles and becoming the L.A. Lakers. That year was pretty amazing for the Lakers, too; they went on a run with 33 straight wins, and that’s still a record holder to this day.
For his efforts, Sharman was awarded Coach of the Year and later inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s one of only three Lakers coaches to hold this honor.
5) John Kundla
John Kundla is sometimes a forgotten name in L.A. Lakers’ history. However, you might have seen his records if you’ve ever looked up stats on the team. He notched almost 400 wins under his belt and led the Lakers to five championships.
Another noteworthy thing about Kundla is that he blazed the trail for future coaches. He was active in the 1950s back when the Lakers were still a Minnesota team! In fact, he wasn’t even let go; he just chose to stay behind when the team moved, and Sharman took over.
We hardly knew ya, Kundla.
6) Frank Vogel
Coming on the scene in 2019, Frank Vogel is one of the more recent names on this list, but he’s worthy of a mention. He took control of the Lakers during a very turbulent time that included everything from the death of Kobe Bryant to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Out of the ashes of tragedy, controversy, and a global illness, he still led the Lakers to a championship. Good job, Vogel.
The Most Successful Coaches in L.A. Lakers History
The Los Angeles Lakers have always been an iconic team, and with the right head coaches, they’ll continue to dominate, inspire, and cement their legacy within the NBA.
As you watch the Lakers play, do remember the hard work put in by their coaches to take them closer to victory each time!
Featured Image: New York Times