Photo courtesy of NBA.com
The newest head coaching hire in the NBA came as a surprise on Thursday.
The Brooklyn Nets tabbed Steve Nash to be be their next head coach. A native of Canada, Nash put together a stellar playing career and hopes to duplicate that success as a coach.
Throughout the course of his career with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, Nash was an 8-time All-Star and led the league in assists five times. Nash won back-to-back NBA MVP awards with Phoenix in 2004 and 2005.
Nash becomes the eighth NBA MVP who went on to become an NBA head coach. Here’s a look back on the previous seven and how they fared in the coaching business:
Bob Cousy: 1969-74 (Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City-Omaha Kings)
Head coaching record: 141-207 (.405)
The 1956-57 NBA MVP, Bob Cousy was no stranger to winning as a player for the Boston Celtics. Throughout his career, Cousy was a 6-time champion. As a coach however, the success didn’t follow. In less than five full seasons as a head coach for the Cincinnati Royals and Kansas City-Omaha Kings, Cousy won fewer than 41% of his games and never made the playoffs.
Bill Russell: 1966-69, 1973-77, 1987-88 (Boston Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics, Sacramento Kings)
Head coaching record: 341-290 (.540)
Accomplishments: 2-time NBA champion, five playoff appearances
The NBA’s first black head coach, Bill Russell’s final two seasons in Boston netted a pair of championships. Russell spent the final three seasons of his playing career as a player-coach, making the playoffs each season and winning the NBA Finals twice. As a player, Russell was a 5-time MVP and an 11-time champion. Following his playing career, Russell coached the Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings.
Wes Unseld: 1987-94 (Washington Bullets)
Head coaching record: 202-345 (.369)
Accomplishments: One playoff appearance
The 1968-69 NBA MVP, Wes Unseld remains perhaps the greatest player in the history of the Washington NBA franchise. Unseld was a 5-time All-Star and helped the franchise win its only title. Unfortunately for Unself, he was unable to duplicate that success as head coach of the Washington Bullets. After starting out as an assistant, Unseld was promoted to head coach when Kevin Loughery was fired after an 8-19 start to the 1987-88 season. The Bullets went 30-25 under Unseld and reached the playoffs. Unfortunately for Unseld, that would be his only season with a winning record.
Willis Reed: 1977-79, 1987-89 (New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets)
Head coaching record: 82-124 (.398)
Accomplishments: One playoff appearance
In what would be the last championship season for the New York Knicks, Willis Reed earned the 1969-70 honor of league MVP. Reed however, will forever be known more for his accomplishments as a player rather than as a coach. In his first season with the Knicks, Reed coached New York to a 43-39 record and a trip to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. That would be the extent of his success.
Dave Cowens: 1978-79, 1996-99, 2001-02 (Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors)
Head coaching record: 161-191 (.457)
Accomplishments: Two playoff appearances
The 1972-73 NBA MVP, Dave Cowens was a 2-time champion as a player with the Boston Celtics, but did not have the same success as a player-coach. Cowens’ longest, most prosperous stint as an NBA head coach came in the mid-1990s with the Charlotte Hornets. Cowens led the Hornets to consecutive playoff appearances, but advanced just once. Both of his exits came courtesy of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Cowens was also a head coach in the CBA and WNBA.
Magic Johnson: 1994 (Los Angeles Lakers)
Head coaching record: 5-11 (.313)
A 3-time MVP and 5-time champion as a player, Magic Johnson’s stint as an NBA head coach lasted just 16 games. Johnson took over for Randy Pfund, but ultimately resigned after posting just a 5-11 record. Two years later, Johnson would return for 32 games as a player and averaged nearly 15 points per game.
Larry Bird: 1997-2000 (Indiana Pacers)
Head coaching record: 147-67 (.687)
Accomplishments: 1997-98 NBA Coach of the Year, three playoff appearances, 1999-00 Eastern Conference champions
Larry Bird spent three seasons as head coach of the Indiana Pacers in his home state. During Bird’s tenure, the Pacers made the Eastern Conference Finals each year and finally broke through by winning the East in 2000. Unfortunately for Bird, he was defeated by a franchise that would beat him twice in the NBA Finals as a player — the Los Angeles Lakers. As a player, Bird won three consecutive MVPs and was a 3-time champion.