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Bernie Bickerstaff

Bernie Bickerstaff
File:Bernie Bickerstaff in 2009.jpeg
Bickerstaff visits the White House with the Chicago Bulls in February 2009, before the Bulls' game against the Washington Wizards.
Personal information
Born (1944-02-11) February 11, 1944 (age 76)
Benham, Kentucky
Nationality American
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Career information
High school East Benham
(Benham, Kentucky)
College Rio Grande CC (1961–1962)
San Diego (1964–1966)
Coaching career 1968–2014
Career history
As coach:
1968–1969 San Diego (assistant)
1969–1973 San Diego
19731985 Washington Bullets (assistant)
19851990 Seattle SuperSonics
19941996 Denver Nuggets
19961999 Washington Bullets/Wizards
20042007 Charlotte Bobcats
20082010 Chicago Bulls (assistant)
20102012 Portland Trail Blazers (assistant)
2012–2013 Los Angeles Lakers (assistant)
2012 Los Angeles Lakers (interim)
2013–2014 Cleveland Cavaliers (assistant)
Career highlights and awards

As assistant coach:

Bernard Tyrone "Bernie" Bickerstaff (born February 11, 1944) is an American basketball coach. He previously worked as the head coach for the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets, Washington Bullets/Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats, and Los Angeles Lakers. He has also been an assistant for the Portland Trail Blazers,[1] Chicago Bulls,[2] Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers. He has served in numerous other NBA front office positions, and has been a consultant for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Early years

He was born in Benham, Kentucky where his father and grandfather worked in the coal mines. Because this was before the civil rights movement, he often had to endure open racism. He attended East Benham High School where he was the starting point guard of the basketball team.

After graduating in 1961, he moved to Cleveland where he had relatives, with the idea of joining the Army, but he instead accepted a basketball scholarship to play for Rio Grande College. The racial tension he experienced during his time playing there made him leave school early and head back to Cleveland to work in a steel mill. However, the difficult working conditions prompted him to accept a second opportunity to play college basketball at the University of San Diego from 1964 to 1966. As a senior he was named team captain and MVP, when the Toreros finished 17-11 and went on to play at the Small College Regional Playoffs. He is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Professional career

After finishing his college eligibility, he was hired by his coach Phil Woolpert to serve as an assistant for the 1968–69 season. After three seasons at 25 years old, he was named the head coach of the University of San Diego after Woolpert's abrupt resignation, keeping this position for the next four years. In 1972–1973 his team finished 19–9 and his four-year overall record was 54–49.

In 1973, Bickerstaff was hired as an assistant for the Washington Bullets by then coach K. C. Jones and was a part of the 1978 Bullets NBA Championship. He left the team after 12 seasons, when Lenny Wilkens hired him for the head coaching position with the Seattle SuperSonics (1985–1990), reaching the Western Conference Finals in 1987.

Bickerstaff was the Denver Nuggets' president and general manager from 1990 to 1997, also coaching the team from 1994 to 1996.

In 1997, Wes Unseld hired him to coach the Bullets, making the playoffs for the first time since 1988 and becoming the league's all-time 34th-winningest coach. After parting ways with the team in 1999, he had a two-year stint with the International Basketball League's Saint Louis Swarm.

In 2003, he was hired by Ed Tapscott to become the expansion Charlotte Bobcats' first head coach and general manager.

Bickerstaff was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012–13 as an assistant coach to Mike Brown.[3] On November 9, 2012, Bickerstaff was named interim head coach of the Lakers after Brown was fired.[4] Three days later, the Lakers signed former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni as their official head coach, although D'Antoni's on-court debut was delayed as he recovered from knee-replacement surgery. Bickerstaff continued to coach the Lakers in D'Antoni's absence,[5] ending his stint with a 4–1 record, the highest winning percentage in Lakers' history, albeit in only five games. He continued with the team as an assistant coach,[6] but was fired after the season.[7]

In the summer of 2013, Bickerstaff became an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers.[8]

NBA coaching record

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
SEA 1985–86 82 31 51 .378 5th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
SEA 1986–87 82 39 43 .476 4th in Pacific 14 7 7 .500 Lost in Conf. Finals
SEA 1987–88 82 44 38 .537 3rd in Pacific 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
SEA 1988–89 82 47 35 .573 3rd in Pacific 8 3 5 .375 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
SEA 1989–90 82 41 41 .500 4th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
DEN 1994–95 32 20 12 .625 4th in Midwest 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
DEN 1995–96 82 35 47 .427 4th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
DEN 1996–97 13 4 9 .308 (fired) Missed Playoffs
WAS 1996–97 35 22 13 .628 4th in Atlantic 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
WAS 1997–98 82 42 40 .512 4th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
WAS 1998–99 50 18 32 .360 6th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
CHA 2004–05 82 18 64 .220 4th in Southeast Missed Playoffs
CHA 2005–06 82 26 56 .317 4th in Southeast Missed Playoffs
CHA 2006–07 82 33 49 .402 4th in Southeast Missed Playoffs
LAL 2012–13 5 4 1 .800 (interim)
Career 937 419 518 .447 33 12 21 .364

Awards and accolades

  • In 1987, he received the Horace Mann Award for Leadership and was also named the 1987 Sports Person of the Year, presented by the New York Pro-Am Basketball Association.
  • In 1995, he was inducted into the University of San Diego's Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the West Coast Conference’s inaugural Hall of Honor.
  • In 2010, he was inducted into the John McClendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame.
  • In 2011, he was named a Kappa Legend and Icon in Sports.
  • In 2012, he was inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame.
  • His hometown of Benham, Kentucky named a street – Bernard Bickerstaff Boulevard – in his honor.
  • In 2014, he was awarded the NBA's Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.


Bickerstaff also worked as a TV and radio analyst with the Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, and the Sporting News Radio.

Bernie's son, J. B. Bickerstaff, is an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets.[9]


  1. ^ Quick, Jason (July 22, 2010). "Trail Blazers legend Buck Williams will be named to Nate McMillan's staff". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ K.C. Johnson (2008-07-01). "Bulls Hire 2 Assistant Coaches". Chicago Tribune. 
  3. ^ Trudell, Mike (September 7, 2012). "LAL Assistant Coach Roles". Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mike Brown Fired As Lakers Coach". Turner Sports Interactive. November 9, 2012. Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  5. ^ Bresnahan, Mike (November 18, 2012). "Mike D'Antoni to miss game because of energy, safety concerns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 
  6. ^ Ahmed, Shahan (November 20, 2012). "Bernie Bickerstaff Made History As Interim Lakers Coach". Archived from the original on November 21, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Mike D’Antoni Fired Assistant Coaches Bernie Bickerstaff and Chuck Person". May 7, 2013. Archived from the original on May 31, 2013. 
  8. ^ Bernie Bickerstaff completes Mike Brown's staff: Cleveland Cavaliers Insider
  9. ^ J.B. Bickerstaff

External links