Rick Adelman became the 11th head coach in Rockets history on May 23, 2007, returning to the bench after a season away from the NBA. Adelman owns a career record of 752-481 (.610) in 16 NBA seasons as a head coach with the Portland Trail Blazers (1988-1994), Golden State Warriors (1995-1997) and Sacramento Kings (1998-2006). He has recorded the sixth most wins among active NBA coaches behind Don Nelson (Golden State), Pat Riley (Miami), Jerry Sloan (Utah), Phil Jackson (L.A. Lakers) and George Karl (Denver). Adelman stands as one of only five head coaches in league history to win 60 or more games with two different teams. He also holds a career 70-68 (.507) mark in the postseason, as his teams have reached the playoffs 14 times in 16 seasons.
Known around the league as a basketball teacher with an ability to mold a team’s style of play around the strengths of his players, Adelman’s coaching highlights include a pair of NBA Finals appearances (1990 and 1992 with Portland), four trips to the Western Conference Finals (1990-92 with Portland and 2002 with Sacramento) and four division titles (1990-91 and 1991-92 with Portland; 2001-02 and 2002-03 with Sacramento). Adelman has been runner-up for NBA Coach of the Year honors three times (1990-91 with Portland; 2000-01 and 2001-02 with Sacramento). He has also coached the West Team in the NBA All-Star Game on three separate occasions (1991 with Portland; 2001 and 2003 with Sacramento). Adelman has been named NBA Coach of the Month five times over his career.
Adelman’s trademark offenses have finished among the top five in the NBA in scoring on 12 occasions over his head coaching career. He has had three additional teams rank in the top 10 in points per game. His teams have also shown a great balance on the defensive end of the floor. When matched with pace of play, Adelman has had five squads (four with Portland and one with Sacramento) finish in the top five in scoring defense.
Prior to joining the Rockets, Adelman recorded a 395-229 (.633) record in eight seasons as head coach of the Kings. He guided Sacramento to playoff appearances in each of his eight campaigns, compiling a 34-35 (.493) mark in the postseason. Sacramento won 50 or more games in five consecutive seasons (2000-01 through 2004-05) under his leadership, including back-to-back Pacific Division titles in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Adelman became the winningest coach in Kings franchise history with a 94-92 victory at Indiana (3/19/04), surpassing Les Harrison (295) on the team’s all-time wins list.
Adelman signed on as the 19th head coach of the Kings on Sept. 17, 1998, inheriting a team that had won only 27 games in 1997-98. The Kings went on to finish with a record above .500 in all eight seasons under his direction. Sacramento’s climb to 61 victories in 2001-02 marked a 34-win improvement over a four-year span, which was the highest jump among NBA teams during that time frame. Prior to Adelman’s arrival, no Sacramento-era Kings squad had registered a winning record, which dated back to 1985-86.
While in Sacramento, Adelman turned the Kings into the highest scoring team in the league by going from an average of 93.1 points per game in 1997-98 to an average of 100.2 points in 1998-99, despite the league average dipping from 95.6 points per outing to 91.6 over the same span. Sacramento continued to increase its scoring to a league-best 105.0 points per game in 1999-2000. Overall, the Kings topped the NBA in scoring for three straight seasons (1998-99 through 2000-01). Sacramento had its streak snapped by finishing second in the league in scoring in 2001-02 (104.6), but still advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
In his first season with the Warriors in 1995-96, Adelman’s influence helped Golden State reduce its points allowed from 111.1 per game to 103.1, which marked the fewest for the franchise in 20 years. In addition, the 1995-96 Warriors outrebounded their opponents (3,458-3,406) for only the second time in 14 seasons. Adelman also reached the career 300-win mark in just 468 games, which at the time was the seventh fastest in NBA history. His 1996-97 Golden State team also improved from 13th to ninth in the NBA in scoring.
Adelman joined Portland’s staff in 1983 under Jack Ramsay and served as an assistant coach until Feb. 19, 1989, replacing Mike Schuler as head coach. In nearly six seasons at the helm of the Trail Blazers, Adelman racked up a record of 291-154 (.654) in the regular season and a 36-33 (.522) mark in the postseason. He twice coached the Trail Blazers into the NBA Finals, qualifying Portland for the playoffs in all six of his seasons. He also led the Trail Blazers to four consecutive 50-plus win campaigns. Adelman still ranks as the second winningest coach in franchise history behind Ramsay.
In his first full season as head coach in 1989-90, Adelman guided the Trail Blazers to a 59-23 record and a trip to the NBA Finals. The following season, Portland won the Pacific Division title behind a league-best mark of 63-19, advancing to the 1991 Western Conference Finals. In 1991-92, the Trail Blazers captured their second straight Pacific Division crown with a 57-25 record and went to the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons. Adelman recorded his 200th victory in just the 288th game of his career in a 115-90 win vs. Detroit (11/22/92). At the time, no coach in league history had reached the 200-win plateau in fewer games.
Adelman began his coaching career at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, where his teams amassed a 141-39 record over six seasons (1977-83). Chemeketa won or shared in three Oregon community college championships and one regional title.
As a player, Adelman spent seven seasons in the NBA with the San Diego Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Jazz and Kansas City-Omaha Kings. Selected by the Rockets in the seventh round (79th overall) of the 1968 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 6.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds in two seasons as a reserve in San Diego. Adelman was taken by Portland in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft and was made the first team captain in Trail Blazers history. Adelman actually got his first taste of coaching experience during the 1970-71 NBA season when he led Portland to a victory after coach Rolland Todd was ejected from the game. Traded by the Trail Blazers to the Bulls prior to the 1973-74 campaign, Adelman was again dealt to the Jazz early in the 1974-75 season. Looking for veteran leadership in their run to the 1975 NBA Playoffs, the Kings made a late-season acquisition to obtain Adelman. He retired in 1975 with career averages of 7.7 points, 3.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 462 regular season games.
Adelman began his playing career at St. Pius X High School in Downey, California, before attending Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, where he was named MVP of the West Coast Athletic Conference as a senior in 1967-68. After retiring from the NBA, he returned to Loyola to earn a master’s degree in history and then worked for Converse in Southern California for a year.
A native of Lynwood, California, Adelman is a devoted family man and community leader. He and his wife, Mary Kay, who have been married for over 31 years, enjoy playing golf and tennis, as well as spending time with their six children: Kathy and her husband, John, R.J., Laura and her husband, Chris, David, Caitlin and Patrick; and five grandchildren: Mary Kay, Anna, Mackenzie, Emilie and Madison. The entire Adelman family has always shown a great commitment to the community, working closely with local church and charitable organizations. In 2000, Chemeketa Community College honored Adelman by presenting him with the Gwen VanDenBosch Volunteer of the Year Award for his tireless fundraising efforts through his annual Rick Adelman Golf Classic. Each year, the golf tournament provides scholarship funds for a male and female member of the Chemeketa basketball teams.
NBA Coaching Experience: 16 Seasons
College: Loyola Marymount
High School: St. Pius X (Downey, California)
Birthdate: June 16, 1946
Birthplace: Lynwood, California