When Rick Adelman steps to the podium tonight following the final Timberwolves game of the season, it could be the last time he does so as a head coach. If so, it will close the book on one of the best coaching stories in NBA history.
"Rick's a once-in-a-generation personality in this league," said Mark Remme of Timberwolves.com. "If the wins and coaching blueprint aren't enough to showcase it, there are people all over the NBA who will back it up."
He has been a head coach for 23 seasons in the league and has amassed the 8th most victories in NBA history. Adelman the coach is an offensive savant with the ability to make a 94 foot by 50 foot space seem vast. At the age of 67, he has had teams win and others which have struggled but his approach to the game hasn't wavered and his footprint from fellow coaches he has inspired directly or indirectly is massive.
"It seems like every coach today has a play or two that derives from Rick," said Remme. "When you see the loyalty his players have for him, you understand he's more than a gifted coach. He's a mentor and a friend. It's why guys like Chase Budinger, Kevin Martin and Brad Miller all raved about getting another chance to play for him when they were here in Minnesota."
Adelman began his head coaching journey in Portland in 1989, leading the Trailblazers to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992 falling short to Detroit and Chicago. He would coach in Portland until 1994. After a year away, Adelman returned to the bench in Golden State but was relieved of his duties after two seasons and a 66-98 record. His eight year tenure in Sacramento was a big success as he led the Kings to the Western Conference Finals in 2002 falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in a rugged seven game series. He coached the Kings against the Timberwolves in the 2004 Western Conference semi-finals. It was the last time the Wolves made the playoffs. After the Kings did not renew his contract, Adelman coached in Houston from 2007-2011 before coming to Minnesota in 2011.
"The most impressive thing about Rick Adelman and what he's meant to the NBA during his career is the level of respect he's earned from peers and players along the way," said Remme. "When he was coming up on 1,000 wins last year, we did interviews with people all across the NBA ranging from Terry Porter and Shane Battier to Pat Riley and George Karl. They all credit Rick with being a coach who trusts his players and puts them in the right positions to succeed, and they say he's one of the top offensive minds of the past 25 years."
His three seasons with the Wolves have been disappointing from a record perspective, but injuries have played a big part in the below .500 record, but the 40 wins this season are the most since the 2004-2005 season and only the ninth time in 25 seasons of Wolves basketball. He took the job in Minnesota knowing the reclamation project it was and more importantly, knowing that he had more to give and wanting the challenge.
Adelman became the 8th coach in NBA history to surpass the 1,000 win plateau last season.
Don Nelson 1,335
Lenny Wilkens 1,332
Jerry Sloan 1,221
Pat Riley 1,210
Phil Jackson 1,155
George Karl 1,131
Larry Brown 1,098
Rick Adelman 1,042
Adelman Record by Season: