NBA Finals

NBA Finals 2019: Which coaches who won a championship in their first year?

Nick Nurse speaks on the podium after winning the NBA title.
Nick Nurse speaks on the podium after winning the NBA title. (Getty Images)

Nick Nurse had a unique journey before taking the position as Toronto Raptors coach. He went through the G-League (where he was champion), pro basketball in England and Belgium, before arriving to the Canadian franchise to be an assistant to Dwane Casey for five years.

And now, in his first year as the Raptors' head coach, he's an NBA champion.

Nurse is the ninth first-year NBA head coach to win an NBA title.

Here are the others who pulled it off prior to Nurse.

John Kundla, Edward Gottlieb and Buddy Jeannette

John Kundla led the Minneapolis Lakers from 1948 to 1959. In his first year in the NBA at age 32, he finished with a 44-16 mark and defeated Red Auerbach and the Washington Capitals in the Finals 4-2.

Edward Gottlieb was a part of the Philadelphia Warriors from 1946 to 1955. His record as a rookie coach at age 48 in the 1946-47 season was 35-25, his Warriors completed a gentleman's swept of the Chicago Stags in the Finals.

Buddy Jeannette would defeat Gottlieb the very next year in 1947-48, winning as a player-coach at age 30 as the Baltimore Bullets beat the Warriors 4-2.

George Senesky

After eight years with the Philadelphia Warriors as a player in which he won a championship in 1947, Senesky took over as head coach during the 1955-56 season and won a title defeating the Fort Wayne Pistons in five games. Interestingly enough Senesky also won a title in his rookie year as a player with Philly.

Pat Riley

There is a place in immortality for Pat Riley. As a player he won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972 and from 1979 to 1981 he was an assistant in the same franchise, then took over as head coach in the 1981-82 season at the beginning of the regular season. In his first year, he finished with a 50-21 record and went on to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 4-2 in the Finals with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.

Paul Westhead

After 14 games as an assistant coach with the Lakers in the 1979-80 campaign, Paul Westhead took the helm and guided the team to a 50-18 record. In the Finals, L.A. beat the 76ers 4-2.

Steve Kerr

In the 2014-15 season, Kerr was appointed head coach of the Golden State Warriors. In the regular season, he finished 67-15 setting a record for most wins by a rookie coach. He then guided the Warriors to the Finals helping them defeat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. He's been to every Finals series since.

Tyronn Lue

After going through battles with the Boston Celtics, LA Clippers and Cavaliers as an assistant, Lue was named head coach of the Cavs in the middle of the regular season replacing David Blatt and finished with a record of 27-14. In the Finals, they faced the Warriors who had finished with a record of 73-9, the best in NBA history. After being 3-1 down, the Cavs came back and won their first title.

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