During his 20 years leading either the Chicago Bulls or the Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson was one of the most dominant coaches ever.
Much like football fans do with NFL legend Tom Brady, who just won his seventh Super Bowl, basketball fans associate Jackson with winning titles. Jackson leads all NBA coaches in total wins (229) during the postseason as well as conference titles (13) and NBA championships (11).
Meanwhile, his overall record (1155-485) during the regular season gives him a winning percentage (.704) that ranks No. 1 all-time as well.
Jackson, who has not been the sidelines for an NBA team since 2011, came into the season trailing Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Nurse took over the pole spot by taking home a title during his first year as a head coach in 2018-19, which catapulted his winning percentage early in his head coaching career.
But the Raptors (10-13) have struggled out of the gates and have a losing record so far this season. Toronto is currently playing out of their Canadian market on account of travel restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic. Their poor record has made a significant hit to Nurse’s career winning percentage (.684 percent), which has fallen from first to fifth-best in league history.
Kerr, as a player, won three NBA championships while playing for Jackson on the Bulls from 1993 until 1998. He also won a title during his first year as a head coach and has since led the team with the best regular-season winning percentage of all-time, coaching the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73-9) to an absurd record.
But last year, the organization was hit with significant injuries to franchise stars Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Golden State (15-50) finished the season with the worst record in the NBA. Even with the rough showing, his overall winning percentage (.701) currently trails only Jackson’s for the best in league history.
Everyone is entitled to a tough year, of course, but that makes the fact that Jackson never finished a season with a losing record even more impressive.