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NBA

What NBA teams, players and coaches have the most championship rings?

Join us for a look at who comes out on top when it comes to counting rings in the NBA’s exciting history.

Paul Rudder
Update:
What NBA Teams, Players and Coaches have the most championship rings?
STRREUTERS

As a professional athlete in any sport the ultimate goal is to win a championship. There are the fans, the trophies, the celebrations and in the case of the NBA, the rings, but either way when it all comes down to it, it’s about proving you’re the best over and over. Join us for a look at the NBA teams, players and coaches who have won the most rings in history.

Who are the NBA players with the most rings in history?

To win a championship in the NBA is quite an accomplishment, but to do so more than once is nothing short of spectacular. Yet there are some who have gone to a point even further than that with multiple championships. With that, let’s break down just who they are and how many they have won:

Bill Russell is king with 11 NBA rings

The only word that can be used to describe the Boston Celtics team of the 1960s is dynasty. With Bill Russell as their talisman, the Celtics went to the finals on 12 occasions in 13 years and got their hands on the trophy 11 times during that period. Where Russell was concerned, between his defensive prowess and notorious shot blocking ability, the ‘Secretary of Defense’ as he was known had a major influence on the team as a whole. There are of course those who will point to the fact that Russell was not a high profile scorer, but the fact remains that whether it was his stopping power, his rebounds or his general persona, he was an essential part of what became the Celtics legend.

Sam Jones got his hands on 10 NBA rings

Up next we’ve got Sam Jones who was also a member of the legendary Celtics team of the 60s, which is to say a teammate of the aforementioned Bill Russell. Interestingly, Jones never played for another team in the league having spent the entirety of his 12 year career with the Celtics during which time he went to the finals 11 times, winning 10 rings. One of the leading scorers every single year and even better a clutch time player, Jones is still considered one of the greatest shooting guards in the league’s history.

Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Tom Sanders and John Havlicek all have 8 NBA rings

Perhaps it’s becoming monotonous, but yes this quartet of players was also part of that famous Celtics era. With eight rings a piece, their names will long be remembered in the pages of NBA and Celtics history. Tom Heinsohn was a forward who contributed immediately after being drafted. Consistently posting double figures per game across his nine year NBA career, his importance to the team can’t be overstated. John Havlicek on the other hand went a step further. The guard was essentially the offensive focal point for the Celtics during their uber successful era. Indeed, Havlicek remains the leading scorer in Celtics history to this day and his famous steal to clinch the series against the Sixers in the 70s is still regarded as one of the greatest moments in NBA history. Jones was one of those players whose stats don’t look impressive from the outside, but still contributed enough on offense and defense to win eight rings in nine seasons. Then there was Tom “Satch” Sanders who spent some 13 seasons with the Celtics. Known for his defensive expertise and key rebounds, Sanders was another player whose offensive stats didn’t give a clear idea of his worth.

There are of course many other players who have come close to these stars of old. Take for example the Chicago Bulls’ dynamic duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen who both got their hands on 6 rings or even Robert Horry who beat them by one with 7 rings across three different franchises, but the names mentioned above will likely live on for some time to come before any other player comes close.

What teams have won the most NBA Champsionships?

When it comes to titles won, there are really only two teams in the NBA who count and in case it wasn’t obvious that’s the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Between the two legendary teams they have a combined total of 34 of the 74 championships in NBA history. Where the Celtics are concerned, their 11 titles in 13 years (1957-1969) is considered to be among the greatest achievement ever of any NBA franchise. Yet we have to consider the 17 titles won by the Lakers - most recently claiming one in 2020 - as being equally deserving of praise, though more evenly spaced with essentially four or more titles won per decade over the last forty years.

To add a little perspective, there are only three teams in NBA history ever to win three titles in a row. We have of course the previously mentioned Celtics and Lakers and then of there’s the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan who did so on two different occasions.

What about the coaches with the most NBA titles?

Steve Kerr

A member of that lethal Chicago Bulls team of the 90s, Kerr knew exactly what winning a championship meant long before he became a coach. While the other managers in our collection all have at least double the number of wins as Kerr, it’s worth noting that the Warriors coach has got a winning percentage relative to the length of his career that simply impressive. With five championships on his CV, this is a coach who has handled quite frankly the best talent that we’ve seen in the modern era with the likes of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to name a few. That he’s taken the Warriors to five straight finals in these times is astonishing given what the game requires today.

Pat Riley

Riley led the Lakers to four championships. Having coached legends such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dwyane Wade the pedigree can’t be questioned. What’s more is that this is a coach who has never backed away from changing his style. When he handled Johnson and the showtime Lakers he let them do just that, put on a show, when he took charge of the Knicks he allowed Ewing to be the focal point of the offense, and when he dealt with Shaq and Wade the coach didn’t hesitate to implement a half court style which saw them decimate teams.

Gregg Popovich

That “Pop” is the mentor for most of the successful coaches in the NBA today tells you all you need to know. Quite simply, this is a coach who took the San Antonio Spurs to the playoffs on 22 seasons and won five titles during that time. As mentioned before he has mentored many coaches in the league which is to say he is and has always been a standard setter.

Red Auerbach

This list wouldn’t make sense without mentioning the legendary cigar smoking coach. It’s not just that he led the Celtics to eight consecutive championships, but it’s how he did it. That’s to say that Auerbach was all about playing as a team. Perhaps there is no better example than Bill Russell who most likely could have challenged Wilt Chamberlain for the offensive crown, but instead followed his coach’s tutelage en route to becoming the cornerstone of the Celtics dynasty. What makes Auerbach’s tenure all the more impressive is that he did all that he did without any assistant coaches or trainers. Think about that.

Phil Jackson

Last but not least we’ve got the winningest of them all. That’s right with his 11 NBA championships, Phil Jackson has the most championships of any manager in NBA history. A three-peat king Jackson first came to the fore with the Chicago Bulls when he led them to three consecutive titles between 1991 and 1993, before doing so once again from 1996 to 1998. It didn’t hurt that he had the man considered to be the GOAT in league history, Michael Jordan, but it would be a mistake to take anything away from ‘Big Phil.’

Of course Jackson didn’t stop there as he would later take his expertise to Hollywood where he coached the likes of Kobe Bryant and Shaq, eventually leading the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive titles between 2000 and 2002, thereby rounding out his untouchable ‘triple triple.’ Jackson would later go on to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010 with the Lakers, cementing his status as the best in the business. Incidentally, his regular season stats are also enviable. Jackson has the best regular season winning percentage with .704 and the most wins of any coach with 1155, that’s to say he’s as good as it gets.

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