The 10 Best Coaches/managers of All Time? Try These Names

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 25, 1998 | Go to article overview

The 10 Best Coaches/managers of All Time? Try These Names


Byline: Terry Boers

My first vivid memory of sports came in the fall of 1957 when my dad, a died-in-the-wool New York Yankees fan, was fretting that his favorite team was about to blow the World Series to the Milwaukee Braves.

Turns out, his concerns were justified. The powerful Yankees lost to the Braves in seven games, the second time in three years the Bronx Bombers had been defeated in the Fall Classic.

I point that out because, give or take a few years, I've been following sports for roughly four decades.

During that time I've seen literally thousands of coaches and managers come and go, so narrowing it down to the 10 best I've ever seen was a difficult task.

But it's done.

A warning. This might seem a little top heavy in terms of football coaches.

The opinion here has always been that football coaches have a more profound effect on the outcome of the game than anyone else in the coaching/managing business.

So here's one more Christmas list for you to peruse.

(Note: They are not listed in any particular order.)

1. Vince Lombardi: I was too young to remember much about George Halas' brilliant career, but if you were a football fan in the '60s there's no way to ever forgot the man who led the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowls as well as five NFL championships overall.

While nothing Lombardi did strategy-wise changed the game, he was the very embodiment of what a football coach should be.

2. Pat Riley: This will probably make Bulls fans angry, but I'll live with it.

While there can be no doubt that Riley had the horses when he won four world championships while coaching the Showtime Lakers, he succeeded in New York with the help of a couple of CBA refugees (John Starks and Anthony Mason) and he quickly rebuilt the Miami Heat into a 61-victory team.

He hasn't won a title without Magic Johnson, but he'll be in a lot better position to do so once Michael Jordan retires.

3. Billy Martin: Perhaps the meanest drunk in the history of baseball, Martin's battles with everybody from fans to his own players are still the stuff of legend in every city he managed.

Say what you will about him (and most people have), Martin was the best I've ever seen at turning around teams that truly had been going nowhere. …

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