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Chris: Basketball coaches tend to fall into one of three categories: 1) they are hard-of-hearing and tend to yell a lot, 2) their players are hard-of-hearing and must be yelled at or 3) they cause both themselves and their players to become hard-of-hearing, due to having the same amount of tact as a crocodile. I don’t know if stronger lungs or more championships won should be a stronger qualifier when determining the best NBA coach ever, but I do believe ear plugs would be a good investment for any basketball player.
Joe: I think Phil Jackson is the greatest of all time NBA coach because he has won more championships (11) than any other coach. It did not hurt that he coached the greatest player of all time, one Michael Jordan.
Ralphie: Phil Jackson is the best NBA coach ever because he took a nobody named Michael Jordan and turned him into a superstar.
Chris: One of Coach Jackson's stipulations of accepting a job is only if he will be supervising the best employee in that career field. Before becoming a basketball coach, it is not a stretch to assume Jackson worked at a well-known burger joint, overseeing the best French fries in the country. When he began his NBA coaching career, Jackson coached Jordan for seven seasons (winning six championships), before transitioning to Los Angeles to coach Shaquille O'Neal for four seasons (winning three championships). When Shaq began eating his weight in food each day, Jackson retired/waited until Kobe Bryant was the best player in the league and returned to coach him for six more seasons (winning two more championships before Kobe's appendages began falling off). When Jackson moves into a retirement community, do not count on him being the recreation coordinator unless he can oversee the best Bingo player in the home. Considering that Jackson's teams were always expected to win a championship and never overachieved - plus the fact that a giant French fry dressed in a suit, tie and glasses could have coached Jordan, Shaq and Kobe to multiple championships - it's hard to determine how much of an impact Jackson had. However, if Jackson were to coach the current Knicks team to a championship, I would send Jackson an apology.
Brad: I think Phil Jackson is the best NBA coach ever because he really perfected the triangle offense and his own style of defensive basketball. He has 11 rings from coaching the Bulls and the Lakers, and a lot of people might say coaching MJ and Kobe doesn’t mean a whole lot because they are so talented, but if that’s the case, why did Steve Nash never get a ring . . . or Charles Barkley . . . see what I’m saying?
Chris: I wonder how often Jackson throws darts at a picture of Pat Riley. If Riley had not convinced LeBron James to sign with Miami, Jackson would have most likely inquired on the availability of a large, cushioned chair to have on the Cleveland bench and hired Brian Shaw to sit in his lap.
Joe: Coach Pat Riley has had a great career as a college player, NBA player and NBA champion five times. As great as he is, he trails Coaches Auerbach and Jackson.
Brad: I think Pat Riley was a great coach, some might even argue the best, but in my opinion, he isn’t the best ever because Phil Jackson won 11 rings with talented teams, and Pat only won five.
Ralphie: Pat Riley is not the best NBA coach ever because he didn't win enough championships.
Joe: I think Red Auerbach was the greatest coach of all time when he coached, but Phil Jackson passed him up. Coach Auerbach won nine NBA championships to finish behind Coach Jackson.
Chris: I had coaches who would yell within such close range that I could smell and determine what type of coffee they had that morning. This causes me to have great sympathy with the plight of Auerbach's players, who were subjected to the aroma of black coffee and cigar breath. I fear Coach Auerbach would not have reacted too kindly if I had turned my head and pinched my nose as he was berating me.
Brad: Red Auerbach is not the best coach ever, because the only reason he found success was because he coached 11 Hall of Famers.
Ralphie: Red Auerbach is not the best NBA coach ever because he played during a time when the players were not as good as they are now.
Chris: If I were a free agent, which I guess I am now, looking for a team to pay me for playing basketball, I would seek out the coach with the lowest blood pressure. I would not want to play for Gregg Popovich. If Popovich were to reproach me, I would either cry, report him to Human Resources or turn and run, assuming fleeing the premises did not violate my contract. However, as a fan, I consider Popovich the best NBA coach ever. He won a championship in the ‘90s, three in the 2000s and one last season, never being the favorite to win. He won with gray hair. He won with white hair. He won with a crew cut. He won with longer hair. He won with a beard. He won clean shaven. And he won with Tim Duncan, except for those games he rested him and got fined.
Joe: I think Gregg Popovich is a great coach and has led his team to five NBA championships, but this pales in comparison to Phil Jackson.
Brad: I think Greg Popovich is not the best coach ever, because the way he handles himself on the basketball court can be looked at as embarrassing. He argues calls, and is seen at times at half-court yelling at the refs.
Ralphie: Gregg Popovich is not the best NBA coach ever because he didn't win as many championships as Phil Jackson.
Try on a new pair of Sports Briefs with the Gab Four every Friday. Find out more about Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie, and read their solo columns on their individual pages.