With the NBA season nearing, I wanted to take a look at the all-time greatest coaches in NBA history, and see how they stack up against the all-time greatest coaches in the history of the Miami Heat. To compare apples to apples, I started by scoring all of each coach’s wins, losses, and series victories. Dwyane Wade then helped me find the all-time greatest players in NBA history. From there, I compared the all-time greatest players to the all-time greatest coaches using the following metrics: winning percentage, winning percentage in the playoffs, winning percentage in the Finals, winning percentage in the championship round, winning percentage in the championship round in the Finals, winning percentage in the championship round in the NBA Finals
It only seems right that two legendary coaches would be pitted against each other in a battle, and that’s what Phil Jackson and Pat Riley are about to face off in the NBA Hall of Fame this weekend. The two men are widely regarded as the greatest coaches of all time, and their teams are widely regarded as the best ever, as well as the most successful.
To the general public, Michael Jordan is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, while Pat Riley is considered one of the greatest coaches of all time. However, both of them are extremely critical of each other’s merits as a coach. Unlike most coaches these days, Riley was known for being a real dictator, who would push his star players to the limit. While Jordan was known for being a loyal soldier to the team, superstar, and that he never complained about any of the hard work that the team would have to put into to succeed.
Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, along with Hall of Famer Red Auerbach and future Hall of Famer Gregg Popovich, are two of the best coaches in NBA history. They both coached the Los Angeles Lakers, and their teams included some of the greatest players in NBA history. As a coach, Phil Jackson won 11 NBA titles, including six with the Bulls and five with the Lakers. Having the opportunity to teach Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal undoubtedly aided him in achieving these lofty goals. Phil Jackson was also an executive with the New York Knicks, where he had Carmelo Anthony, one of the best scorers in NBA history.
Pat Riley, meanwhile, won five NBA championships with the Lakers and one with the Miami Heat as head coach in 2006. Riley also won a championship as an assistant coach in 1980 and two championships as a general manager in 2012 and 2013. Riley has won nine championships while actively engaged with the Miami Heat squad and organization. But who has the best team of players among the Hall of Famers? We’ll determine which side wins a 7-game series by determining the greatest 12 players each legend has ever had as a coach or executive.
The All-Time Team of Phil Jackson
Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Shaquille O’Neal are the starting lineup.
Ron Harper, Glen Rice, Carmelo Anthony, Lamar Odom, Toni Kukoc, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Harper, Glen Rice, Carmelo Anthony, Lamar Odom, Toni Kukoc, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Harper, Ron Harper, Ron Harper,
The All-Time Team of Pat Riley
Magic Johnson, Dwyane Wade, James Worthy, LeBron James, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the starters.
Tim Hardaway, Byron Scott, Jimmy Butler, Chris Bosh, Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Byron Scott, Jimmy Butler, Chris Bosh, Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning
Lineups to Start
Both Jackson and Riley’s starting lineups are obviously absurd. No club in NBA history has come close to having a starting lineup with this much raw skill and ability on both sides of the court. Both parties agree that it is excellent in every aspect. As the team’s main point guard, Kobe Bryant will most likely handle the ball for Team Phil. Bryant has expressed his dislike for bringing the ball up, but it will be essential to give Jordan the room he needs to score at will.
Scottie Pippen will, of course, split ball-handling responsibilities with Jordan, as he did with the Chicago Bulls. Rodman will play defense and will dominate the paint with perhaps the most dominating physical force in NBA history. On the court, O’Neal and Rodman will be difficult to manage, and their personalities are a great match.
Team Riley’s roster is comprised of the ideal blend of selfless superstars and team players. With Wade and Worthy sprinting alongside them, Magic and LeBron are probably the two greatest on-court leaders in NBA history and will be the superior team on the fast break. Due to the presence of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, O’Neal will be forced to play defense in every game of the series, limiting The Diesel’s influence on both sides of the court. In a nutshell, the starting lineups will pit team stars against powerful individuals.
Ron Harper, Glen Rice, Carmelo Anthony, Lamar Odom, Toni Kukoc, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum are on Phil Jackson’s All-Time Team.
Tim Hardaway, Byron Scott, Jimmy Butler, Chris Bosh, Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing, and Alonzo Mourning are on Pat Riley’s All-Time Team.
It’s much too tough to see the difference between both teams’ benches since superstars and Hall of Famers may enter the game at any time. Because Carmelo Anthony was unstoppable with the New York Knicks when Jackson was an executive, Team Phil possesses perhaps the greatest scoring option in the league. During his seven seasons with the Knicks, Anthony averaged 24.7 points per game and will make a strong combination with Lamar Odom, a dynamic forward who can dish, rebound, and score.
Kukoc, Gasol, and Bynum are all capable of scoring in one-on-one scenarios and have the size to cope with Team Riley’s lineup. Ron Harper is one of the greatest lockdown defenders in NBA history, while Glen Rice is one of the top shooters in NBA history (40.0 percent career 3-point FG). Pat Riley has a variety of guys to throw against Phil Jackson’s squad. Jimmy Butler can be counted on to play lockdown defense against the greatest scorer on the floor, while Hardaway and Scott can handle the ball and score. Bosh and Oakley offer size, but Ewing and Mourning are the primary bench players. It will be tough for Gasol or Bynum to deal with these two bigs, giving Team Riley the greatest chance to win the series.
Team Phil Jackson has the upper hand.
The team led by Phil Jackson has one clear advantage: scoring. Michael Jordan, a 10-time scoring champion, is the best offensive player in history. He is virtually flawless as an offensive player, whether he attacks the hoop, posts up, or pulls up from mid-range. That implies that if he isn’t double-teamed, the other team may be in for a 40- or 50-point performance from the Bulls icon. Double-teaming Jordan isn’t an option on this team.
If Kobe Bryant has room to operate, he will demolish Team Riley, which means Team Phil will face man-to-man defense. Covering Shaq in a single cover may be even more disastrous, since he is much too strong and dominating to be stopped by any defender in history. Shaq will be hampered by Abdul-presence, Jabbar’s but The Diesel will remain dominating. Rodman and Pippen need to do what they do best to let Jordan, Kobe, and O’Neal to shine while the bench fills in with offensive firepower.
The Pat Riley Advantage
The greatest “Showtime” incarnation in basketball history will be Team Riley. In that respect, Magic, Worthy, and Kareem were formidable; but, the addition of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade transforms this squad into an unstoppable force on the break. Team Riley will nearly always score when Kareem or James collect rebounds after misses. They’re too prone to breaking down on the break, and even the greatest defense in NBA history won’t be able to stop them.
Team Riley will also have no trouble identifying the team’s top scorer since everyone plays the game correctly. Riley’s bench boasts go-to scorers in the post in Ewing and Mourning, and Magic and LeBron are the greatest floor generals in NBA history. Riley’s team is powerful on both sides of the court, but the fast break will be their calling card.
As good as Team Riley is, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal are just unbeatable. Regardless of egos, Team Riley has much too much firepower and mental tenacity to overcome, and keeping any of these three players to under 30 PPG in the series is an impossible task. The series will be decided in six games, with an OT win in Game 6 determining the final result. Although Magic Johnson and LeBron James are excellent floor generals, and players like Ewing, Mourning, and Abdul-Jabbar are capable, they lack Team Phil’s raw half-court scoring.
Fastbreak chances will be restricted in a tough series like this as the games progress. As a result, Team Riley’s strongest asset is taken away, and Worthy and LeBron are forced to play on the perimeter. Kareem can throw the skyhook at any moment and cause chaos, but it isn’t enough to stop Jordan and Bryant. These are the two best perimeter scorers we’ve ever seen, and as soon as they get hot, they’ll put their foot on the other team’s throat. With O’Neal and Carmelo’s scoring and Pippen’s lockdown defense, this series goes to six games, with the greatest player of all time earning Finals MVP.
Phil Jackson’s All-Time Team defeated Pat Riley’s All-Time Team 4-2 in the final.
Michael Jordan was named MVP of the Finals (35.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.5 SPG)
Buckets takes credit for the concept.
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