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Celtics by the Numbers: History vs Stevens

Posted by shawn cassidy on August 3, 2013 at 5:15 AM

When it comes to college coaches jumping to the NBA, it doesn't happen much. When it comes to college coaches winning in the NBA? It's hard to do. It doesn't mean that it's not a reachable goal. But a task that could be reachable by the right coach. In the current landscape of the NBA. The Heat's coach Erik Spoelstra has broken the mold. He wasn't a former NBA player, but he did work his way up through the NBA ranks. He started off as a video guy, and now he has two titles under his belt, which infuriates me :D!

Here is a stat to think about. How many coaches that have won a title since 1970 have played in the NBA? Since 1970, 32 coaches have won as former players in 44 Finals since 1970. From the other 12 titles many of the coaches were NBA tested as head coaches on other teams, or assistants on other teams.

The 1970's started off with Red Holzman, he won two NBA titles with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973. He had a brief playing career in the 50's. How about Larry Costello of the 1971 Bucks who won? He had a strong 14 year career. During his NBA career, Costello was selected to six All-Star games. Then you have Tommy Heinsohn who was a Celtic great in the 50's and 60's. He went on to win two more titles as coach of the 1974 and 1976  Celtics. Another Celtic legend Bill Sharman won with the enemy in 1972 when the Lakers finally won their first title in LA.

Another former NBA player who coached a team in the 70's to a championship was Al Attles of the Warriors in 1975. The final title of the decade was won by the Sonics in 1979. That team was coached by hall of fame player Lenny Wilkins, who won his only championship as a coach with Seattle in 1979. The only championships won in the 70's by non ex-NBA players were Dr.Jack with the Blazers in 1977, and by Dick Motta who won with the Bullets in 1978. That's 8/10 of former players winning titles as coaches. That's not a bad number. But another factor is this with Dr.Jack and Motta. They were already proven as head coaches in the NBA.

The 80's started off with Paul Westhead leading the Lakers to a win Finals win in 1980. He wasn't a player, and he's been a coach on almost every level. For the past decade he's done much of his coaching with the WNBA, and he currently coaches the University of Oregon ladies basketball team. In the following year in 1981, Bill Fitch led the Celtics to a championship. Fitch wasn't a player, but he was a NBA coach on a few teams before his stop with Boston. During the 80's former Lakers player Pat Riley won 4 titles as Lakers coach, and former Celtics player K.C Jones won two titles with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986. In 1982 Billy Cunningham won with the 76ers, in which he player for in the 60's and 70's. To round off the decade, Chuck Daly led the Pistons to the 1989 championship. Daly was a veteran coach by that time though.So 7/10 titles were won by former NBA players still a solid number.

The 90's started off with Daly winning a second title in a row with the Pistons. The rest of the decade was led by former Knicks big man Phil Jackson who won 6 titles with the Bulls, and with Rudy T who was a player with the Rockets in the 70's who captured two titles with the Rockets. In 1999 Gregg Popovich won his first title with the Spurs, and he wasn't a former player,but he was a former NCAA coach who worked his way up through Larry Brown as an assistant coach.So the 90's ended with 8/10 titles won by former players.

The 2000's started off with 3 titles by former Knick player and Bulls coach Phil Jackson. In 2003 coach Pop won another title. Pop would win two more in 2005 and 2007. In 2004 Larry Brown was the first coach in NBA history to win a NCAA National Championship(Kansas 88) and a NBA title with the Pistons in 2004. Brown was also a former pro player in the ABA. In 2006 former Lakers coach and player won another title as a coach with the Heat in 2006. The decade was rounded off with former player Doc Rivers winning with our C's in 2008, and with Jackson winning another ring in 2009 to finish the decade. So 7/10 titles were won by former players. In 2010 and beyond. The Lakers won another title in 2010 under former player Phil Jackson, and in 2011 the Mavs won with former Celtic Rick Carlise. For the past two titles Erik Spoelstra has become one of the youngest coaches to win a title. Plus he wasn't a player.

Brad Stevens has his doubters, and right now I am not one of those doubting him. I am a bit worried about his tenure in Boston. I think he's young enough and passionate enough to break the mold that has plagued many others before him that have flopped. Look at Billy Donovan who backed out of the Magic job after he joined them for a second. This won't be easy, and history is against Stevens, but with coach Spo winning in the past two seasons. Maybe having young coaches who know the game is the way to go.

Categories: Celtics By The Numbers

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1 Comment

Reply paul
6:12 AM on August 3, 2013 
A lot depends on the rrelationship between Stevens and Rondo