The Best Lakers Coaches Of All Time

Over 200 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Greatest Coaches in Laker History
Latest additions: Darvin Ham, Luke Walton, Frank Vogel
Most divisive: Byron Scott

Who is the best Los Angeles Lakers coach ever? From Minneapolis to Los Angeles, the Lakers have had a long and storied ride as an NBA franchise. Perhaps that's why the team attracts such storied coaching talent, too. Every head coach of the Lakers from best to worst has contributed to the franchise in some way. Some great leaders prioritized defense, while other former Lakers head coaches developed genius offensive plays. Many of the best L.A. Lakers coaches once played for the team themselves. Who are the best Lakers coaches ever? 

Phil Jackson has won more titles than any other coach in NBA history, including five championships with the L.A. Lakers. His “zen” approach to basketball has made him a legend in Lakers history. Jerry West was a player with the Lakers from 1960-1974 and a coach with the team from 1976-1979. Other good coaches from the Los Angeles Lakers include Byron Scott, Pat Riley, and Mike Dunleavy. Frank Vogel won a title as head coach of the Lakers in 2020.

Which LA Lakers coach do you think is the best? Vote your favorites up to the top of the list and help decide which LA Lakers coach is the best.


Ranked by
  • Phil Jackson
    1999–2004, 2005–2011
    129 votes
    • Birthplace: Deer Lodge, Montana

    A master of the triangle offense and Zen-like approach to coaching, Phil Jackson is a transcendent figure in the world of professional basketball and undeniably one of the best Lakers coaches of all time. Known for his ability to manage the egos of superstar players like Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, Jackson led the Lakers to five of their 17 championships during his two separate stints as head coach. Furthermore, his holistic approach to coaching, emphasizing teamwork, selflessness, and mindfulness, has left a lasting impact on the sport that is still felt today.

  • Pat Riley

    Pat Riley

    111 votes
    • Birthplace: Rome, New York

    Few coaches in NBA history can boast the same level of success and swagger as Pat Riley, whose Showtime Lakers of the 1980s dazzled fans with their electric style of play and undeniable star power. With a keen eye for talent and unmatched motivational skills, Riley harnessed the strengths of Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, leading the Lakers to four championships during his tenure. To this day, Riley's legacy looms large over the franchise, as both a testament to his coaching genius and his indelible impact on the sport itself.

  • John Kundla
    20 votes
    • Birthplace: Star Junction, Perry Township, Pennsylvania

    The architect of the league's first true dynasty, John Kundla laid the foundation for the Lakers' storied history, guiding the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships in six years during the late 1940s and early 1950s. His ability to maximize the individual talents of George Mikan, the league’s first dominant big man, and mold them into a cohesive unit set a blueprint for coaching excellence that would resonate through the decades. Kundla's impact on the sport and the Lakers' success cannot be overstated, as he helped shape professional basketball into what it is today.

  • Bill Sharman
    49 votes
    • Birthplace: Abilene, Texas

    A dual threat as both an accomplished player and brilliant coach, Bill Sharman took the Lakers' reins in 1971 and immediately made his mark on the franchise. Under Sharman, the team notched its first championship in the Los Angeles era, while also setting a then-record 33-game winning streak that still stands as the longest in NBA history. His motion offense and commitment to defense transformed the Lakers into title contenders, and his winning mindset has left an indelible mark on the organization.

  • Jerry West
    64 votes
    • Birthplace: Chelyan, West Virginia

    Though perhaps best known for his legendary playing career and iconic status as "The Logo," Jerry West's foray into coaching should not be overlooked. His innovative mind and keen basketball IQ translated seamlessly to the sidelines, where he guided the Lakers through a period of transition in the mid-1970s. Despite not capturing a title as a head coach, West's impact on the sport extended beyond his playing days, showcasing the depth and breadth of his contributions to the game of basketball.

  • George Mikan
    18 votes
    • Birthplace: Joliet, Illinois

    One of the founding fathers of professional basketball, George Mikan's towering presence and dominant skillset made him an early icon of the sport. Bridging both the playing and coaching worlds, Mikan led the Minneapolis Lakers to four championships as a player before transitioning to the sidelines in the late 1950s. Though his coaching tenure was brief, Mikan's unmistakable contributions to the game and the Lakers' rich history are felt to this day.