Bernie Bickerstaff loses spot as greatest Lakers coach of all time

Bernie Bickerstaff directs the Lakers during his second game as interim head coach.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

The greatest coach in Lakers’ history, by winning percentage, lost his first game Tuesday night.

Bernie Bickerstaff, acting as interim head coach between the Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni eras, saw his perfect record fall to 2-1 with an 84-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Pat Riley regains the lead on the all-time list with a 73.3% regular-season winning percentage (533-194).

Second is Jack McKinney, back in 1979, whose brief 14-game stint (10-4) edges him (71.4%) over both Paul Westhead and Phil Jackson.

Westhead went 111-50 (68.9%) before losing his job to Riley.

Jackson finished two runs with the Lakers at 610-292 (67.6%).

The league ruled the loss to the Spurs went to Bickerstaff despite D’Antoni having a signed contract. Under normal circumstances, if a coach misses a game the outcome falls on his record and not the assistant in his place.


It remains unclear if D’Antoni will coach Friday against his former team, the Phoenix Suns. He may act as an observer and debut Sunday instead against the Houston Rockets.

If that game were to be credited to Bickerstaff, the veteran coach would have the chance to raise his winning percentage to 75%, ahead once again (and possibly permanently) over Riley.

ALSO:Gasol looking forward to ‘fun’ D’Antoni system

Antawn Jamison calls time with Lakers a ‘zoo’

Dwight Howard ‘excited for D’Antoni’

You can email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.