Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman reaches 1,000 career wins
By Ben Golliver
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman won the 1,000th regular season game of his 22-year career when Minnesota defeated Detroit 107-101 at the Target Center on Saturday.
Adelman (1,000-703) becomes just the eighth coach to cross the 1,000 wins threshold, joining Don Nelson (1,335-1,063), Lenny Wilkins (1,332-1,155), Jerry Sloan (1,221-803), Pat Riley (1,210-694), Phil Jackson (1,155-485), Larry Brown (1,098-904) and George Karl (1,088-727).
Only four coaches reached 1,000 wins faster than Adelman, who needed 1,703 games: Jackson (1,423), Riley (1,434), Sloan (1,663) and Karl (1,679).
“I think one of the greatest parts about him is that it’s not about him,” Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love said. “It’s never about him. It’s definitely a big deal to him that he’s coming up on a thousand wins, but you’d never know it. He always lets it be the players’ team. It’s all about us. It’s all about us getting better, and it’s never about the notoriety about him.”
Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio added: “It seems like he knows everything. I feel comfortable with him. It’s something that he has and you can’t explain it. Once you are on his team, he’s giving you advice, it’s like a clinic every single day…He lets us play and that’s pretty cool for me. I like when I’m out there and playing like it’s a playground and it’s the NBA. It’s fun. He deserves it, especially this year. He stayed with the team and he has all my respect for that.”
Adelman’s NBA coaching career began in 1988, when he stepped in as head coach for the Blazers, where he began as an assistant. He coached Portland until 1994, making Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992. He went on to coach two seasons for the Warriors (1995-1997), eight seasons with the Kings (1989-2006), four seasons with the Rockets (2007-2011) and he’s in the midst of his second season with the Timberwolves (2011-present).
The march to 1,000 wins was a bit rocky this season, as the health of his wife, Mary Kay, kept away from the bench at times and even led him to consider resigning.
Although he has never coached a team to a title, Adelman fares well on the all-time charts by winning percentage. Only nine coaches that lasted 10+ seasons have a better career winning percentage than Adelman (.587). They are: Jackson (.704) Gregg Popovich (.683), K.C. Jones (.674), Red Auerbach (.662), Riley (.636), Sloan (.603), Karl (.599), Chuck Daly (.593) and Larry Costello (.589).
In addition to the two Finals appearances, Adelman guided the 1991 Blazers and the 2002 Kings to the Western Conference finals. His teams have made 16 playoff appearances. Regarded as one of the league’s most underrated coaches, he’s never been selected as Coach of the Year.
Karl, who hit 1,000 wins in December 2010, and Adelman stand out from a vast majority of their current peers on the NBA’s all-time wins list. Popovich, who is on track to cross the 1,000 wins plateau during the 2014-15 season, is the only other currently active coach among the top-20 all-time in wins with a career record of (903-419). Doc Rivers (585-470) is the only other active coach with more than 550 career victories.
Adelman, 66, began his career as a coach at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon.