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It Only Happened Once in the NBA

May 18, 2015

There can be only one champion when the NBA playoffs wrap up. Here are some other notable NBA figures who were the only person to reach an achievement.

It Only Happened Once in the NBA Only person to win Coach of the Year three times with three teams

Two coaches have been selected Coach of the Year on three separate occasions: Gregg Popovich, and Pat Riley. All three of Popovich’s awards came with the San Antonio Spurs. Riley won it with three different teams: the Los Angeles Lakers (1990), the New York Knicks (1993), and the Miami Heat (1997).

Only person to win Coach of the Year with a losing record

Former NBA all-star (and 1955 champion) Johnny Kerr was the first ever coach of the Chicago Bulls. In the team’s first season of 1966-67, he guided the team to a mediocre 33-48 record…but got them into the playoffs, the first time an expansion team reached the postseason in its first year. For his efforts, Kerr was named Coach of the Year.

Only player-coach to win an NBA championship

After Red Auerbach guided the Boston Celtics to nine championships in the 1950s and ‘60s, he retired in 1966 and was replaced with one of the team’s biggest stars: Bill Russell. Russell, just 32 at the time, continued to play and coach the team until 1969, and won two NBA titles (along with being named an All Star as player, too).

Only player from “the Dream Team” not in the Hall of Fame

The 1992 Olympics marked the first time pros could play on the USA Basketball team. The roster was stacked with 11 NBA stars, such as Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. The 12th spot went to Duke star Christian Laettner. He went on to a mildly successful NBA career, and as of 2015 is the only Dream Teamer not in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Only #1 draft pick to win an NBA title in his rookie year

In the 1979 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Earvin “Magic” Johnson with the #1 pick. Less than a year later, Johnson led the team to an NBA title. (He lost Rookie of the Year to some guy named Larry Bird.)

Only person to be named MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year

Larry Bird.

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