The Top 5 Lakers Coaches In Franchise History

Written By


pat riley

The Los Angeles Lakers organization is one of the most historic in all of sports, winning 17 championships, tied for the most in the NBA with the Boston Celtics.

The list of Hall of Fame players that have worn the purple and gold is endless, but it takes more than just players to win titles.

Lakers fans are lucky to have seen some of the best coaches in history lead the organization through the years. Here is a list of the top five coaches in Lakers history:

1. Phil Jackson

Jackson at No. 1 is a no-brainer. Not only is he the greatest coach in Lakers history, but potentially NBA history as he holds the record with 11 championships as a head coach.

Five of them came with the Lakers where he made the NBA Finals seven times in 11 years across two stints with the team. Three of those championships were won in a row from 2000-02, the last three-peat in the NBA. He then added two more in 2009 and 2010.

Jackson is the all-time winningest Lakers coach when it comes to championships, finals appearances, wins and playoff wins.

2. Pat Riley

Riley took over a championship-winning Lakers team in 1981 after spending a couple of seasons as an assistant.

In 10 years at the helm, Riley led the Lakers to seven finals appearances and four championships. 

His 73% winning percentage is higher than even Jackson and Riley has an NBA Coach of the Year to his name in 1990. The “Showtime” Lakers owned the 1980s with five total championships, and Riley played a large role in that.

3. Bill Sharman

Sharman was named head coach of the Lakers in 1971 and was responsible for the organization’s first championship after moving to Los Angeles in 1972.

Sharman also took home his only Coach of the Year award that year, leading the Lakers to an NBA-record 33-game winning streak.

Remaining head coach of the team through 1976, Sharman had a 246-164 overall record with L.A.

4. Paul Westhead

Before Riley became the Lakers’ head coach, he was an assistant under Westhead during the 1979-80 championship season.

Westhead took over for Jack McKinney after a tragic bicycle accident and went 114-50 in two seasons. Unfortunately, though, disagreements with Magic Johnson led to the Lakers’ star point guard convincing owner Jerry Buss to move on. from Westhead in favor of Riley.

5. Frank Vogel

In 2019, the Lakers were in a rough spot after missing the postseason. Johnson unexpectedly resigned as president of basketball operations, and head coach Luke Walton was fired shortly after.

While Vogel wasn’t the Lakers’ first option in their coaching search, he wound up getting the job and made the most of the opportunity. Vogel led the Lakers through a tumultuous 2019-20 season which included the death of Kobe Bryant, a China trip gone wrong and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The result was the Lakers winning their 17th championship in the Orlando bubble, bringing glory back to the organization after its worst decade in history.

Vogel’s next two seasons didn’t go as planned though as the Lakers dealt with a ton of injuries and disappointed while on the court. As a result, the Lakers parted ways with Vogel at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season in favor of Darvin Ham.

In three seasons with the Lakers, Vogel had a regular season record of 127-98.