If you looked around the NBA, you’d find that a vast majority of head coaches in the league are former players. Probably more so than any other professional sports league, you’ll see that teams look to hire younger coaches, such as Steve Kerr, Derek Fisher, or Jason Kidd, rather than just continuing to recycle the same old coaches like Major League Baseball tends to do.
Most frequently, you find that the best NBA players aren’t really interested in the day-to-day grind as a coach. Michael Jordan, for example, is happier in the executive suite than he is drawing up plays on a whiteboard. But on rare occasions — like how players will stay on the court a little too long — even the best of the best can’t get away from the sidelines. Here are five of the best NBA players to try their hand at coaching.
1. Jerry Sloan
Shooting guard Jerry Sloan may be the only former player on this list who’s better remembered as a head coach than as a player. But he was once a very, very good guard playing for the Chicago Bulls. A 6-foot-5, Sloan was a fantastic rebounder for his height — averaging 7.4 per game in his career. He also was a decent scorer, putting up a career best 18.3 points per game to go along with 8.8 rebounds in 1970–71.
Sloan was a good enough basketball player to get his No. 4 uniform retired by the Bulls, and he went on to take his first head coaching gig with Chicago in the early ’80s. Sloan was let go after a disappointing 19-32 start to the 1981–82 season, and after four years as an assistant coach in Utah, he took over as head coach of the Jazz. That’s where he became a Hall of Fame head coach, compiling a 1,809-1,127 record in 23 seasons before resigning in 2011.