Bernie Bickerstaff

Bernie Bickerstaff

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
Benham, Kentucky
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight 185 lb (84 kg)
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. 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. His wife, Mrs. Bickerstaffe, is a 4th grade teacher in Wykoff, New Jersey.

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]

Head 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 WL% Finish PG PW PL PWL% Result
Seattle 1985–86 823151.3785th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Seattle 1986–87 823943.4764th in Pacific1477.500 Lost in Conf. Finals
Seattle 1987–88 824438.5373rd in Pacific523.400 Lost in First Round
Seattle 1988–89 824735.5733rd in Pacific835.375 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Seattle 1989–90 824141.5004th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Denver 1994–95 322012.6254th in Midwest303.000 Lost in First Round
Denver 1995–96 823547.4274th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Denver 1996–97 1349.308(fired) Missed Playoffs
Washington 1996–97 352213.6284th in Atlantic303.000 Lost in First Round
Washington 1997–98 824240.5124th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
Washington 1998–99 501832.3606th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
Charlotte 2004–05 821864.2204th in Southeast Missed Playoffs
Charlotte 2005–06 822656.3174th in Southeast Missed Playoffs
Charlotte 2006–07 823349.4024th in Southeast Missed Playoffs
L.A. Lakers 2012–13 541.800(interim)
Career 937419518.447 331221.364

Awards and accolades


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 associate head coach for the Memphis Grizzlies.


  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
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