Then and now: What NBA coaches looked like when they were players

  • All 30 NBA head coaches were once players at various levels.
  • Of the 30 coaches, nine played in the NBA and several more played professionally in Europe.
  • We collected photos and images of 24 current NBA head coaches from their playing days.

All NBA head coaches are former players and it can be a bit jarring to see what they looked like when they were the ones in jerseys, shorts, and sneakers.

Of the 30 head coaches in the NBA during the 2018-19 season, nine are former NBA players. Five others played professional basketball in Europe, and all played hoops in college.

Below, we collected photos and images of 24 coaches from their playing days.


Mike D’Antoni — Houston Rockets


D’Antoni played at Marshall University. He also played four seasons in the NBA and ABA with the Kings, Spurs, and Spirits, as well as several seasons in Europe.

YouTube/Olimpia MilanoTV

Larry Drew — Cleveland Cavaliers


Drew played college basketball at the University of Missouri and then 10 seasons in the NBA with the Pistons, Kings, Clippers, and Lakers.


Rick Carlisle — Dallas Mavericks


Carlisle played at the University of Maine before five seasons in the NBA with the Celtics, Knicks, and Nets. He won an NBA championship with the Celtics in 1986.


Steve Kerr — Golden State Warriors


Kerr played at the University of Arizona and then spent 15 seasons in the NBA with six teams. He won five championship rings as a player.


Nate McMillan — Indiana Pacers


McMillan played at North Carolina State and then spent 12 seasons with the SuperSonics.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Erik Spoelstra — Miami Heat


Spoelstra played at the University of Portland.

University of Portland

Spoelstra was also on the court against Loyola-Marymount the night Hank Gathers died.

ESPN

Doc Rivers — Los Angeles Clippers


Rivers played at Marquette followed by 13 seasons in the NBA with four clubs. He was an All-Star in 1988 with the Hawks.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Luke Walton — Los Angeles Lakers


Walton played college hoops at the University of Arizona and then spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers and Cavs. He won two rings as a player.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Billy Donovan — Oklahoma City Thunder


Donovan led sixth-seeded Providence to the Final Four in 1987. He later spent one season in the NBA with the Knicks, playing under his former college coach, Rick Pitino.


Scott Brooks — Washington Wizards

Nick Wass

Brooks played at TCU and UC-Irvine. He spent 10 seasons in the NBA with six teams.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Brad Stevens — Boston Celtics


Stevens played college hoops at DePauw.

DePauw University

Kenny Atkinson — Brooklyn Nets


Atkinson played at Richmond and then spent more than a decade playing for several clubs in Europe.

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images

David Fizdale — New York Knicks


Fizdale played at the University of San Diego where he was a 3-year starting point guard. He was all-conference his senior season, averaging 9 points and 7 assists per game. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in assists.

University of San Diego

Gregg Popovich — San Antonio Spurs


Popovich played basketball at the Air Force Academy. He was later a member of an All-Star US Armed Forces Team that toured Eastern Europe and Russia.

Air Force Academy

Dwane Casey — Detroit Pistons


Casey played at Kentucky and won an NCAA championship in 1978.

Getty Images

J. B. Bickerstaff — Memphis Grizzlies


Bickerstaff played college ball at Oregon State and Minnesota.


Mike Budenholzer — Milwaukee Bucks


Budenholzer played at Pomona Pitzer.

Pomona College

Brett Brown — Philadelphia 76ers


Brown played at Boston University.

TNT via YouTube/The NBeye Official

Nick Nurse — Toronto Raptors


Nurse played at the University of Northern Iowa.

Northern Iowa

Quin Snyder — Utah Jazz


Snyder played in three Final Fours at Duke.

Rich Clarkson/NCAA via Getty Images

Alvin Gentry — New Orleans Pelicans


Gentry played at Appalachian State.

Appalachian State

Lloyd Pierce — Atlanta Hawks

John Amis

Pierce played at Santa Clara and later spent a few seasons in Europe before beginning his coaching career.

Santa Clara University

Michael Malone — Denver Nuggets


Malone played at Loyola-Maryland.

Loyola Athletics

Jim Boylen — Chicago Bulls

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Boylen played for the Maine Black Bears where he averaged 21.1 points per game as a senior. It was the second-best scoring season in school history.

Maine Black Bears

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