NBA coach Rick Adelman retires

April 21, 2014

Rick Adelman, a respected offensive mind who led two different franchises to the Western Conference Finals, announced his retirement today from coaching in the NBA after 23 seasons as a head coach.  Adelman coached the Minnesota Timberwolves this past season, and will remain with the team in a consultant role.

"I think it's time for me to step aside," said Adelman. "When I came here, we really tried to see if we could turn some things around and we made some strides. Not as much as we would have liked, but I think it's time for me to step aside and let someone else come in with this group. We're not that far away. I really enjoyed my time here. I thank Glen so much. He's the best owner I've ever been around. Not only as an owner, but as a person and everything. It's been an enjoyable experience, but I’m ready and my wife’s ready to move on to another phase. We’re looking forward to that."

Adelman ranks eighth all-time in NBA coaching wins with a 1042-749 (.582 winning percentage) career record. He became the eighth NBA head coach to record 1,000 wins in a career, reaching that milestone in just his 1,703rd NBA game, the fifth-fastest pace in NBA history.

"Coach Adelman is truly one of the greatest coaches in our game’s history, and he has helped restore credibility and respectability to the Timberwolves franchise through what he stands for both on and off the court,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders. “He has impacted the NBA with his offensive vision and influenced the philosophies of many coaches in the league."

Adelman, 67, served as head coach of five NBA teams: Portland (1988-94), Golden State (1995-97), Sacramento (1998-2006), Houston (2007-11), and Minnesota (2011-2014).

He came closest to winning a title with the Clyde Drexler-led Portland squad that made two NBA Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992, only to lose to the Bad Boys Pistons and Chicago Bulls, respectively.  The Blazers also were eliminated in six games in the Western Conference Finals in 1991 by the Lakers.

Those Portland teams were known for their depth, fast break style, thunderous dunks, and three-point shooting.  They were also unfairly, most likely racistly, labeled as a "dumb" team by pundits, as they often were criticized for taking bad shots and hoisting transition threes early in the shot clock.  Despite such criticism, those teams nevertheless were exciting, as Drexler was an underrated, legitimate MVP candidate, who was surrounded by an impressive veteran cast, including Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, Danny Ainge, Buck Williams, and Kevin Duckworth, to name a few.

Adelman's penchant for creating dynamic offensive squads was seen again with the Sacramento Kings, as he took the Kobe-Shaq Lakers dynasty to the brink of elimination in overtime of Game 7 of the 2001-2002 Western Conference Finals.  That Kings team featured two great passing bigs operating out of the high and low post in Vlade Divac and Chris Webber; point guard Mike Bibby draining jumpers off the screen-roll; and several excellent three-point shooters.

Adelman’s trademark offenses have finished among the top five in the NBA in scoring on 14 occasions over his head coaching career.  He is one of only five head coaches in NBA history to win 60-plus games in a season with two different teams (Portland and Sacramento).

"Rick Adelman established himself as one of our game’s great coaches, manning the NBA sidelines for the better part of a quarter century,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “One of only eight coaches in our history to amass 1,000 victories, Rick’s versatility and rapport with his players ultimately led to that legacy of success. On behalf of the NBA, I would like to thank Rick for his extraordinary service to the league."

Adelman recently was on the Lakers' short list of coaching candidates to be Phil Jackson's potential replacement.  Instead, owner Jim Buss offered the job to the one guy nobody else was looking to hire -- in-over-his-head, glorified assistant Mike Brown.  We all know how well that turned out.

As a player, Adelman spent seven seasons in the NBA with the San Diego Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Jazz, and Kansas City-Omaha Kings.  He retired in 1975 with career averages of 7.7 points, 3.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 462 regular season games.

Adelman began his playing career at St. Pius X High School in Downey, California, before attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he was named MVP of the West Coast Athletic Conference as a senior in 1967-68.

By Staff of and news services

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