Best Indiana Pacers coaches of all-time, ranked
The Indiana Pacers are considered a hallmark organization by many. They’ve been around for 53 years, nine as an ABA team and the following 44 as an NBA squad.
Indiana has an overall record of 2,210-2,076 in the regular season, which is good for a winning percentage of 51.6.
The Pacers have had quite a few legendary coaches stroll its sidelines. Despite having zero NBA titles, the team does have three ABA championships and has gone on some deep postseason runs as an NBA team.
For this piece, we ranked the top four coaches in Pacers franchise history, starting off with a guy who is one of the best basketball players in NBA history, a Boston Celtics legend and a former Indiana team exec.
4. Larry Bird
Larry Legend coached the Pacers for three campaigns. He won 147 games in the regular season and 32 in the playoffs.
Bird is sixth in franchise history for wins by a coach during the regular season. He’s second in playoff wins and the only Indiana coach to lead the squad to the Finals since the franchise became an NBA team in 1976.
Bird won the 1998 Coach of the Year Award after leading the Pacers to 58 wins. He still has the highest winning percentage for an Indiana head coach in the playoffs at 61.5.
The 1999-00 Pacers went to the NBA Finals and faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers. Indiana lost in six games, but that team will never be forgotten by their fans.
3. Larry Brown
Under Brown’s guidance, the Pacers won 190 games in the regular season and 22 in the playoffs. Indiana missed the postseason just once with Brown leading the charge, during his final year with the team.
The Pacers made the conference finals in Brown’s first two years as head coach. Indiana fell to the New York Knicks in 1994 and the Orlando Magic in 1995.
Brown has the third-most wins in the regular season for a Pacers coach and the fourth-most postseason victories.
2. Frank Vogel
Vogel coached the Pacers for six seasons and had tremendous success. Indiana made the playoffs five out of six times under Vogel, reaching the conference finals in back-to-back seasons and losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat both times.
He won 250 regular-season games with the Pacers, putting him second on the franchise’s all-time coaching wins list. Vogel’s 31 postseason victories put him in third place.
If not for LeBron and the Heat, Vogel’s Pacers may have advanced to an NBA Finals during his tenure.
Vogel never won Coach of the Year with the Pacers, but he captured a few Coach of the Month Awards. Frank is now leading the Lakers with LeBron and Anthony Davis.
1. Slick Leonard
Slick guided the Pacers to their three ABA championships. He’s the winningest coach in franchise history by a wide margin.
Leonard won 529 games in the regular season and 69 in the playoffs. The Pacers’ first ABA championship came in 1970 when the team defeated the Los Angeles Stars in six games. Indiana won back-to-back titles in ’72 and ’73 over the New York Nets and Kentucky Colonels, respectively.
Slick was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 as a coach. It’s going to take a Pacers head coach a long time to catch up to Leonard’s 529 regular-season wins.
The current Indiana coach is Nate McMillan. Before the season was suspended due to COVID-19, McMillan had the Pacers in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 39-26.