Who is the greatest coach of all time? It might be hard to judge coaches from different sports, and I think everyone will have a different opinion. Deciphering who is the greatest coach of all time is not just about the wins. But that is definitely a big part of it.
Great coaches win. They win championships. They attract talent, and they mesh that talent into a successful team. They bounce back from adversity and they minimize the distractions in the lockerroom. They have a clean record. They come up with a new gameplan for each unique opponent, and they execute it.
Bill Belichick is now the most winningest playoff coach in NFL history. He now joins Chuck Noll as the only coaches to win 4 Super Bowls. Some call him the Sith Lord, and he has a reputation for testing the boundaries of the rules, as was seen in “Spygate” a few years ago and currently “Deflategate”, which both took a lot of the attention away from the Super Bowl. Yes, Belichick has had issues with cheating, but Spygate is the only one that is definitely his fault. Despite this one blemish on Belichick’s record, it is stupid to say he is not the best coach in the NFL. His record speaks for itself. The trickery used in beating the Ravens in the AFC Divisional round playoff game shows just how complicated this coach can get with his gameplan. A lot of people hate him, but Belichick is undeniably one of the greats.
Coach K has been the coach of the Duke Blue Devils for decades, and he recently eclipsed 1,000 wins – the first coach in NCAA Mens basketball history to ever do so. He has been to 11 Final Fours, the second most all time. He is about to earn his 20th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and the only reason he didn’t get one in 1995 was because he had to step away from the game due to illness halfway through the season. He has won 2 Gold Medals in the Olympics for the United States. Through the success he has created, he has made Cameron Indoor Stadium one of the most electrifying atmospheres and one of the most feared places to play in all of sports. Coach K has built a dynasty with Duke basketball that has lasted a very long time, and he just continues to win.
My favorite slogan about the Spurs was in their 2014 NBA Finals campaign, titled “Built vs. Bought”, as they were going up against the Miami Heat and the Big 3. This quote really illustrates what the Spurs and Coach Pop are all about. They have stuck with the same three franchise player for the last decade and a half (almost), and they have been very successful in playing traditional, all-around team basketball. Greg Popovich has won 5 NBA Championships, and is tied for 3rd for the most all time.
The “Wizard of the Westwood” won 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period, including SEVEN CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A ROW. He also won 88 consecutive games. Granted, in the 1960’s and 70’s it would have been easier to win championships at this rate then it is today. But when a coach wins back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships, you know that they are one of the best to walk the planet.
Lombardi won 5 NFL Championships and 2 Super Bowls, and he has the small feat of having the Super Bowl trophy named after him. For good reason too. Lombardi created a dynasty with the Green Bay Packers. He saw the game completely change, and he won the very first two Super Bowls in history. He brought the Packers from the bottom of football to one of the most historic teams in history. He brought the excitement to football, and he is one of the reasons why it is so big today. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Scotty Bowman was perhaps the greatest hockey coach of all time. He holds the NHL record for most wins in the regular season (1244), and most wins in the playoffs (233). He aslo won a total of 13 Stanley cups. Bowman is the only coach in Professional American Sports to win a championship with three different teams. His ability to spread his success across so many different cities and teams is what makes Bowman unforgettable.
Joe McCarthy created the dynasty that is New York Yankees baseball. He still holds the greatest winning percentage in MLB history (.615). He won Seven World Series with the Yankees and created the winning culture in New York that we still see.
Dean Smith passed away Saturday, which was news that saddened the whole sports world. Everyone was reminded not just of what a great coach he was, but what a great person he was and what he did for the game of basketball and civil rights. He ended the segregated ACC conference by signing UNC’s first black scholarship athlete. He brought his players to scrimmage in prisons and to meet prisoners, and he advocated against the death penalty. He was one of the greatest coaches that college basketball will ever see.
Can’t decide? You’re not alone. It is very difficult to compare coaches from different sports, and levels within the different sports. We should appreciate all of these coaches for what they’ve done for the sports world.