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12 Basketball Players That Won Championships As a Coach and Player

ClutchPoints logo: MainLogo ClutchPoints 3/18/2023 Spencer See
3/18/23 © Provided by ClutchPoints 3/18/23

Winning an NBA championship as a player is already an elusive feat. However, winning one as the head coach of a team is a different animal altogether. But despite the herculean task, some NBA personalities have succeeded both as a player and a coach. For this piece, let’s take a look at 12 basketball players that won championships as a coach and player.

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson is popular for having won two three-peat titles with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. He was also the man on the sidelines when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant built a three-peat of their own. Lastly, he also coached the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers to two more championships in 2009 and 2010.

As a player, Jackson won two NBA championships with the New York Knicks. Although Jackson mostly came off the bench, the Knicks had stars such as Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, and Bill Bradley to get the job done.

Steve Kerr

As a sharpshooter, Steve Kerr played a solid role in helping Michael Jordan and the Bulls conquer their second three-peat. After leaving the Bulls, Kerr would win two more NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs.

After enjoying success as a player, Kerr’s championship experience translated to coaching success. As the coach of the Golden State Warriors, Kerr has stirred the Stephen Curry-led squad to four NBA titles.

Bill Russell

As one of the most dominant big men ever, Bill Russell led the team to 11 NBA championships. Out of those 11 NBA championships, Russell also served as a player-coach in two of those after Coach Red Auerbach retired just before the 1966-1967 season.

Tom Heinshon

As part of the Boston Celtics dynasty, Tom Heinshon won eight NBA championships with the Boston Celtics. After hanging up his basketball sneakers, Heinshon returned to the Celtics this time as Head Coach. Heinshon stirred the franchise to two NBA championships.

K.C. Jones

Like Bill Russell and Tom Heinshon, K.C. Jones was also part of the Boston Celtics’ dynasty in the 60s. The Celtics guard finished his career with eight NBA championships. After retiring from basketball, Jones turned to coaching. After winning two championships as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, Jones coached the Boston Celtics to win two more rings.

Bill Sharman

Also part of the Celtics dynasty in the 60s, Bill Sharman ended up with four NBA championships. After retiring from the game, Sharman found success as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers by winning a championship in 1972.

Billy Cunningham

Playing alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham was able to win one NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers. After 12 years of playing in the NBA, Cunningham returned to the franchise as a head coach. Cunningham stirred the Moses Malone-led Sixers to the pinnacle of the NBA.

Red Holzman

Back in the days, Red Holzman won a championship with the Rochester Royals, who are now called the Sacramento Kings today. One decade later, Holzman tried his hand in coaching. He won two NBA championships with the New York Knicks featuring fellow champion coach Phil Jackson.

Larry Costello

Larry Costello won an NBA championship during the latter stages of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers. Just a few years later, Costello coached the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-led Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA championship.

Pat Riley

Pat Riley has earned an NBA ring as a player, assistant coach, head coach, and team executive. His first NBA championship came in 1972, as part of the Los Angeles Lakers team that featured Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West.

Riley returned to the Lakers as part of the coaching staff after his playing days. He won a total of six championships as an assistant coach and head coach of the Lakers before winning another one with the Miami Heat.

Tyronn Lue

As part of the Lakers’ three-peat from 1999 to 2001, Ty Lue was part of the last two championship teams with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant doing the heavy lifting. 15 years later, Lue would win his next NBA ring as the head coach of the LeBron James-led Cavaliers that climbed from a 1-3 deficit in the NBA Finals.

Rick Carlisle

During his playing days, Rick Carlisle was part of the Boston Celtics’ dynasty in the 80s with Larry Bird at the helm. He won a championship in 1986. In 2011, Carlisle guided the Dallas Mavericks to its first NBA championship. As the coach of the Mavs, the Dirk Nowitzki-led team was able to pull off the upset against a heavily favored Miami Heat who were led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

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Nish Patel

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