View Full Version : Great Coaches With Bad Luck

01-05-2013, 08:41 PM
I think everybody knows that just as being a great player isn't enough to get you rings, that being a great coach, likewise, isn't enough to get you a spot in the HOF.

Some coaches have benefitted greatly from fortunate situations. Red Aurbach for example. Clearly a great coach, but he was also very fortunate to land a roster like the Celtics had. Likewise Phil Jackson was handed the keys to a dynasty in his first job as head coach, and afterward, got first pick of what dynasty he would coach next (though his final two rings were earned with a team he helped to get to a championship level). Pat Riley was also fortunate to get the Lakers as his first job. He was given a team who had recently just won a championship.

This isn't to diminish what these coaches did, because each have proved that they were among the best coaches of all time, but that said, there are perhaps some equally great coaches who have not been as fortunate.

Doug Collins comes to mind. While coaching the Bulls he helped the team to get one step closer to a championship each of his first three seasons, but was then suddenly fired despite helping a team re-group after significant roster changes and pushing them to the conference finals. Had Collins been left in charge of the Bulls for another season, he may have been able to win a title with the roster they had. He had Tex Winters as an assistant and Jackson as well, giving him both an offensive guru and a defensive guru to help him improve the team. Plus he would have had the addition of two first round picks to help the thin bench, and would have benefitted from the continued imporvement of Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. Collins never got that chance though, and while he would go on to help Grant Hill reach his highest level of play, and help the Wizards improve with Jordans return, as well as help the 76ers slowly improve despite roster changes that have no always been for the better, he will never have the kind of career he could have had had Chi-town left him in charge of the Bulls.

Fred Schaus had a problem similar to that of Jerry Sloan. Just as Jerry Sloan had to play against the Bulls in the finals, then found the Jazz overmatched by teams like the Lakers and Spurs after Jordan had retired, Schaus had the great misfortune of coaching the Lakers, a very talented roster, when Bill Russell and the Celtics were realing out champion after championship. He got to the NBA finals four times, but each time lost the the Celtics. Though he wasn't fired, he moved to the Lakers front office where he managed to eventually assemble a championship team. Had he not been coaching against the greatest dynasty in NBA history, his name may have been mentioned alongside Jackson and Red.

I think some people will roll their eyes when I mention this next guy, but I think is is a good coach. Flip Saunders, I think, did a good job building the T-Wolves up. He helped the team improve each season in his first thiree season, the strike shortened season was a little rough, but afterward managed to consistently get around 50 wins out of the team each year for five seasons, despite the fact that the front office did a horrible job of bringing talent in to put around Garnett (and obviously Garnett deserves a lot of credit for the team's success during this time). The season following the T-Wolves best year, the front office was unable to keep the roster together and the team regressed. Flip was axed, but had the front office been able to get some talent around Garnett, I think Flip would have been able to do more during his tenure with the team. His next job in Detroit saw him take over a team that had already won a championship. HOF coach Larry Brown had gotten 54 wins out of this roster each of his two season with the Pistons, but Flip got 64 wins out of a roster that was seen as being on its decline at the time (Ben Sheed and McDysse were all 31 years old, and most considered them on the decline at that point, and Dumars had let Okur walk to Utah in free agency). He failed to get them to the finals, and they lost to eventual champions the miami heat in a tightly contest series. The following year the Pistons let Ben Wallace walk in free agency the next season, but Flip was still able to get 53 wins out of the team, where Larry Brown had managed 54 wins with a superior roster. Flip got the Pistons to their 5th consecutive conference finals appearance. 2008 saw expectations for the Pistons dropped, but Flip got 59 wins out of this roster, despite the fact it was aging and losing pieces each year. They lost to eventual champions (the Boston Celtics), but he got them to their 6th conference finals appearance. After this stellar performance, Saunders was fired! Dumars said the Pistons needed a "new voice". That new voice was Michael Curry and he managed to get 39 wins out of Detroit the following season, with a roster that feautred much the same roster, but a mid-season trade for Allen Iverson sent fan-favorite Chauncey Billups to the Nuggets. Detroit would finish below .500 for the first time since since 01 and failed to win a playoff game. Had Flip had the same roster to work with as Brown, he may have won himself a title. Instead, he helped a team that was slowly regression remain in contention for three more seasons, only to get fired. The best job he could find afterwards was with Washington. That season, which might have been seen as potentially promising to start, went south in December when the "gun" incident took place. Gilbert Arenas and Jarvis Crittenton had had a showdown in the locker room invovling unloaded guns which resulted in the Wizard's best player being put on the shelf due to suspension for the entire season. Arenas was eventually traded and all Flip had to work with was guys like Javale McGee and Andre Blatche. Needless to say, not many coaches would have come away from this situation with a winning record.

So... are there any coaches you guys have thought had the potential to be HOF coaches, but simply didn't get the opprotinity to coach with the right rosters? Jerry Sloan, though he hasn't won a title, has proved himself to be a HOF coach, so I didn't include him in this list.

Who you got as an underrated coach?

01-05-2013, 08:55 PM
Every coach in the nba seeing as how most people think its a players game and a coacth is 100% irrelvent yet when good player rosters stuggle it suddenly the coacths fault

01-05-2013, 09:48 PM
Don Nelson.

01-05-2013, 10:03 PM
hubie brown jvc jerry sloan

01-05-2013, 10:05 PM
Karl, Sloan, guys who lost a chance to win a ring because of MJ.

01-05-2013, 10:09 PM
Rick adleman

01-05-2013, 10:10 PM
Adelman has been the best coach in the league for a number of years.

01-05-2013, 10:22 PM
Jerry Sloan....Why did MJ have to be playing when Jazz got those two Finals.

01-05-2013, 10:40 PM
I have a nominee in mind for the "Awful Coaches With Great Luck" award

01-05-2013, 10:45 PM
Adelman has the worst luck of them all.

01-06-2013, 01:22 AM
I'm gonna say Doc Rivers. He should of beaten the Lakers in 2010 and probably could of beaten the heat last year in the Eastern Conference finals. Sure they wouldn't have beaten the Thunder but still I think he has bad luck.

01-06-2013, 02:00 AM
Both the Van Gundy's

01-06-2013, 02:12 AM
Alvin Gentry. Great coach with no talent.

01-06-2013, 02:16 AM
Right now it's Adelman, Karl, Byron Scott, and Monty Williams off the top of my head. It's sad, really, because **** coaches such as Scott Brooks and Vinny Del Negro seem to have all the luck.

01-06-2013, 03:45 AM
Addelman just cannot catch a break. Brought Portland to the finals, and that wasn't even his best team. Those Kings teams mighta been screwed out of a title. They were at least close. Rockets teams had major injury woes. Now the Wolves are falling apart. He is an aeesome coach, though. One of the better ones in the past 25 years.

01-06-2013, 04:01 AM
I have a nominee in mind for the "Awful Coaches With Great Luck" award

Phil Jackson?

01-06-2013, 06:06 AM
definitely Byron Scott.

People complained that LBJ didn't have a real coach in Cleveland and when they finally get one, Lebron heads to Miami to deal with another iffy coach in Spoelstra :facepalm:

Meanwhile Mike Brown, Mike 'Antoni, and VDN get rosters flushed with talent and still get no blame when their teams get bounced by superior coaches in the playoffs.

01-07-2013, 01:23 AM
I have a nominee in mind for the "Awful Coaches With Great Luck" award

Let's hear it! :-)

01-07-2013, 01:37 AM
Im goingto say Rick Adelman. The refs, Webber's knees, injuries in Houston really have hampered a guy that gets the very best out of teams. Thats not even counting Portland.

01-07-2013, 01:38 AM
There are better examples, but SVG is certainly a great recent example. Been shafted twice now

01-07-2013, 04:55 AM