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Players & Coaches Who Won Championships With Multiple Teams

Posted by Neil Paine on June 27, 2011

BBR user Kenneth asked:

"I have a question regarding players and coaches with NBA titles--which player(s) and coach(es) have won NBA titles with the most teams? As for players, I suspect Robert Horry, who won titles with the Houston Rockets (2), Los Angeles Lakers (3), and San Antonio Spurs (2), unless another player has won titles with four teams."

Right you are, Kenneth (although, like many people, you forgot about John Salley). Here are all the players and coaches who won championships in the same role with multiple teams:

Person Role Total Rings Diff Tms Teams
Robert Horry Player 7 3 HOU, LAL, SAS
John Salley Player 4 3 DET, CHI, LAL
Phil Jackson Coach 11 2 CHI, LAL
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Player 6 2 MIL, LAL
Dennis Rodman Player 5 2 DET, CHI
Pat Riley Coach 5 2 LAL, MIA
Ron Harper Player 5 2 CHI, LAL
Slater Martin Player 5 2 MNL, STL
Steve Kerr Player 5 2 CHI, SAS
Horace Grant Player 4 2 CHI, LAL
Pep Saul Player 4 2 ROC, MNL
Robert Parish Player 4 2 BOS, CHI
Shaquille O'Neal Player 4 2 LAL, MIA
Will Perdue Player 4 2 CHI, SAS
Clyde Lovellette Player 3 2 MNL, BOS
Dennis Johnson Player 3 2 SEA, BOS
Gerald Henderson Player 3 2 BOS, DET
Jamaal Wilkes Player 3 2 GSW, LAL
James Edwards Player 3 2 DET, CHI
Mario Elie Player 3 2 HOU, SAS
Paul Silas Player 3 2 BOS, SEA
Sam Cassell Player 3 2 HOU, BOS
Alex Hannum Coach 2 2 STL, PHI
Arnie Risen Player 2 2 ROC, BOS
Bill Walton Player 2 2 POR, BOS
Bob Dandridge Player 2 2 MIL, WSB
Charles Johnson Player 2 2 GSW, WSB
Earl Cureton Player 2 2 PHI, HOU
Jack Coleman Player 2 2 ROC, STL
James Posey Player 2 2 MIA, BOS
Lindsey Hunter Player 2 2 LAL, DET
Mitch Kupchak Player 2 2 WSB, LAL
Wally Walker Player 2 2 POR, SEA
Walt Davis Player 2 2 PHW, STL
Wilt Chamberlain Player 2 2 PHI, LAL

32 Responses to “Players & Coaches Who Won Championships With Multiple Teams”

  1. Mike Says:

    Do you have something similar with most championships with multiple teams as a player and or coach?

    It seems like Phil Jackson is the clear winner (12 with NY, CHI, LAL)

  2. Aohdskljsdfhalkj Says:

    Don't you mean 13?

  3. merl Says:

    I think that you should give Phil Jackson and Lenny Wilkens credit for rings as both player and coach.

  4. Luke Says:

    Does anyone crack 4 teams if they won titles while serving in any capacity with a team? (player, coach, executive, etc.)

  5. latopia Says:

    Interesting list but which could be more useful if players were weighted according to minutes played.

    Example. Steve Kerr gets a lot of mileage from his rings with Chicago & San Antonio despite Kerr's replaceable/dispensable role as 1-way player (spot-shooting specialist) whom coaches could only trust at 15mpg. In the postseason (1995) when Kerr logged his highest mpg, Kerr also logged the worst DRtg of anyone on the team. Ditto Gerald Henderson as a defensive specialist. Whereas guys like Ron Harper, Mario Elie, James Posey all averaged at least 2 x quarters per game (25mpg) & were essential contributors on both ends of the floor.

    Is there a point here? I don't know.

    I do think lists like this could transcend trivia or mere entertainment. It could, for example, become a useful tool to profile certain types of role players who could/should be acquired by contending teams. "Filtering" the Kerrs & Hendersons from such a list, perhaps by minimum average mpg, might be a start.

  6. Cort Says:

    bobby dandridge i think was the only player to win titles as a starter on 2 different teams in the 70s: milwaukee 1971 and washington 1978. also lost in '74 finals (milw) & '79 (wash). very underrated player.

  7. AYC Says:

    Mario Elie is the only non-Bull to win 3 championships in the 90s

  8. Bill Says:

    I'm not sure Kareem should count. It was two cities, but the same team.

  9. AYC Says:

    Huh? Are you confusing Minneapolis with Milwaukee?

  10. Anthony Coleman Says:

    You know what I find most impressive? That out of all the players on the list Kareem is the only player to win Finals MVP on two different teams...and he accomplished this feat 14 YEARS APART!!!!!!!!!

  11. Cort Says:

    yes plus kareem originally won the 1980 finals mvp but then they re-voted when he wasnt there following the laker game 6 upset. he was back in la resting his injured ankle preparing for game 7. he averaged 33 ppg and 14 reb pg in 5 games. totally dominated the series and johnson did not have a great series unil his monster 6th game - but cbs wanted to promote the more likable and smiling rookie johnson over the sullen jabbar. so they re-voted.
    and johnson didnt play center in game 6. total myth. jim chones and mark landsberger did. johnson guarded caldwell jones and bobby jones, not darryl dawkins. DD debunked the johnson game 6 myth in his book too.

  12. Bill Says:


    Yes I am.

    Admittedly, they both have lakes, lots of white people, and very little relevant basketball tradition.

  13. Bill Says:

    johnson didnt play center in game 6. total myth. jim chones and mark landsberger did. johnson guarded caldwell jones and bobby jones, not darryl dawkins. DD debunked the johnson game 6 myth in his book too.

    This is an interesting question in a larger framework.

    Is your position determined by where you play on offense, by whom guards you, or by whom you guard?

    If you played a team made up of identical, 6'5", small-forward quintuplets, what position would you be considered to have played?

    In the Finals, Dirk Nowitzki was variously guarded by a SF, a PF, and a C. He more or less occupied a zone on defense. On offense, his position varied with the lineup. What position did he play in the finals?

  14. Keith Ellis Says:

    I share Bill's perspective re rookie Magic Johnson playing Center in Game Six. Those of us who were there watching the game on TV know he indeed played Center, jumped Center (a now-archaic act whose elimination from opening each Q is a barbarity), & tossed in several rolling hook shots from the post to remind us that he, indeed, was replacing the big fella at Center.

    Bill Russell was calling the game for CBS, & talked at length about the Lakers' playing "small ball" w/ Magic in the post (as a 3rd playmaker) as a key that might pull off the upset vs Philly. Of course, the gambit worked & everybody was amazed to see Magic lead the Lakers to the title w/out their HoF Center.

    Funny how folks decades later think they "see" something that nobody watching the game itself believed happened. Darryl Dawkins was shown up by Magic, as was Caldwell Jones. Small wonder the Dawk, who could've been another Shaq had he been allowed to bowl over opponents in the paint (he was a better shooter than Shaq), would like to see history re-written.

  15. AYC Says:

    Cort, do you have a source for the claim that Kareem was originally named Finals MVP in 1980? I've never anybody say that but you, and I couldn't find evidence on the web....

  16. AYC Says:

    I've never heard anybody say that but you....

  17. Cort Says:

    It is in Kareem's autobiography "Giant Steps." Read it elsewhere too. Kareem was pretty bitter over it. No one talks about it because people love Magic's phony persona and Kareem is not generally well-liked. I have also read this elsewhere.
    Also, like I said above, Darryl Dawkins also said in his autobiography that the Johnson sixth gamecenter mythology was BS.
    Just because Johnson "jumped" center doesnt mean a thing. Plenty of non-centers are there in the opening circle for the tap. Kind of silly to think that the first second of play determines a position. If memory serves me, he didnt even actually jump at the tap.
    Since Johnson was a primary ballhandler and played a lot on the perimeter on offense and did not guard the low post (Darryl Dawkins in this case), i would say that makes him what we normally call a guard or at most a small forward - especially in 1980, when offenses were more traditional with low post centers on almost all teams.
    So what if he made a couple hook shots, I have seen films of Bob Cousy and Pete Maravich making lefty hooks, Mark Price too, and countless non-centers in the past. Jim Chones was a 6-11 center for a decade before this 6th game. Id say he was most likely the center, if they had one at all. Jamaal Wilkes was a forward. Norm Nixon a guard. Landsberger was an incredible rebounder but poor offensive player at 6-8 or 6-9. I saw the game as a kid and Johnson had a great game, no doubt. But he DID NOT play center.
    Would we be having this argument if Johnson wasnt smiling/popular, Jabbar was hurt the last game and was unpopular, and if the then-struggling league didnt need new marketable stars and thus wanted to perpetuate this myth? Even Johnson's nickname is illustrative of the hype that always surrounded his game and PR. Tends to make one think he is better than he is when your nickname is Magic - sounds a lot better than EARVIN.
    Even in the 1980 Finals 5 games Jabbar's contributions and stats dwarfed those of Johnson. He DOMINATED dawkins and caldwell jones and was the clear reason LA won the title. KAJ even came back in the 5th game with a bad ankle sprain and dunked in a 3-point play as Dr. J hammered him in the face trying to block it - and that play broke a tie in the final minute as LA took a 3-2 edge.

  18. Cort Says:

    The Johnson 1980 Finals 6th game center myth was also mentioned in the FreeDarko 2010 book "The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History."

  19. AYC Says:

    Cort, people don't make a big deal about that game because Magic jumped the opening tap; they make a big deal because he had a 42/15/7/3/1 line with a .720 TS% for the game. Despite the loss of their best player, the Lakers won game 6 and the series --on the road-- because of Magic's brilliant performance. As for that whiner Kareem, it's hard to win finals MVP when you didn't even play in the decisive game....

  20. Cort Says:

    i already said he had a great game - but he didnt play center. and kareem got them there, he was the season MV that year and dominated the 5 prior games to get LA a 3-2 lead. dont disregard what kareem did because you dont like him. the lakers leaned on kareem even when he was 40. in game 6 of the 1987 finals, he scored 32 points to clinch the title while johnson had a bad game.
    despite what a lot of fawning media want to say because earvin was more friendly and likable, if anything kareem made johnson, not the other way around.
    jabbar won multiple (5) season MVPs and an NBA title before johnson came to the lakers. johnson never won a title or anything else without kareem. most of johnson's halfcourt assists came on easy entry passes to jabbar. and most of johnson's open set shots - since he had no jumper - came off kickouts from double teams of jabbar, or worthy.

  21. Anthony Coleman Says:

    "As for that whiner Kareem, it's hard to win finals MVP when you didn't even play in the decisive game"

    You have a point AYC, but you also need to remember that Kareem was the main reason why they were able to win those first 3 games. Plus Magic people forget but Magic made like a gazillion turnovers in that series. Overall besides game 6 his first finals wasn't amazing, while Kareem was Kareem. As a series on a whole Kareem was definitely the MVP of the 1980 Finals. Well at least Kareem probably got some cosmic satisfaction when he saw James Worthy steal Magic's 1988 Finals MVP because he had that huge Game 7.

  22. Keith Ellis Says:

    Fellas, Cort needs to look at this --

    True colors are revealed by the reference to Free Darko, a "club" of non-bkb geeks who've apparently never watched a game & have made a name for themselves pretending to "debunk" established bkb history. In the video Cort needs to watch Magic Johnson takes down Darryl Dawkins in the post. He jumps Center against Caldwell Jones. He tells Hot Rod he's The Center for the game. He hits hooks, not because Bill Bradley used to shoot them, too, but rather to remind us he's replacing the big fella for the nite.

    In Giant Steps Kareem never criticized Magic for replacing him at Center. That book was all about Jabbar's enjoyment of a breezier Buddhist-inspired early-Eighties lifestyle w/ his then-new girlfriend. Magic's joy & exuberance rubbed off on Cap. Kareem even allowed the book's publisher to pose him on the cover in imitation of Wilt Chamberlain's full-length pose on his own autobiography of ten years earlier.

    Great thing about YouTube is we can look these things up that many of us saw the first time around, to de-bunk the would-be debunkers. And there was positively *no mention* of somebody memorably shooting a .720 "TS%" in 1980. Bkb fans were smarter than to use non-stats back then -- altho it wasn't long afterward that the "triple-double" term was invented, & non-stats proliferated from the Nineties onward, as the in-game action shrank.

  23. Bill Says:

    Since Johnson was a primary ballhandler and played a lot on the perimeter on offense and did not guard the low post (Darryl Dawkins in this case), i would say that makes him what we normally call a guard or at most a small forward - especially in 1980, when offenses were more traditional with low post centers on almost all teams.

    Positions change. Walton was raised in the UCLA system of a center who plays at the high post and passes well -- was he not a center?

    Wilt lead the league in assists -- was he not a center?

    Barkley shot a ton of 3s and often ran the offense, was he not a PF? (1st in rebounds, 1st in blocks, 2nd in 3s, 2nd in assists -- what position did he play?)

    Laimbeer in 1990 was out-rebounded by a small forward and lead the team in 3pts made (2nd in 3pt %). He was often in lineups with John Salley and James Edwards where he was the 3rd tallest man on the court. Was he not a center? [it helps when that SF is Dennis Rodman]

    Hell, look at the 1996-1997 Blazers. Arvydas Sabonis, Chris Dudley, Cliff Robinson, Jermaine O'Neal, and Rasheed Wallace. Wallace was 3rd on the team amongst the centers on 3s attempted -- Sabonis took 132 and Robinson took 350. Sabonis was 2nd amongst centers for rebounds and Robinson was 3rd. Were they not centers?

    Speaking of Wallace -- look at this clip:

    It's not Ben Wallace who's guarding Shaq, it's Rasheed Wallace. In these sets, he's a PF on offense and a C on defense. The next year, when the PF was Mourning instead of Malone, it was Ben on Shaw and Rasheed on Mourning. In those same series, Kobe and Dwyane Wade (SGs) were guarded by Tayshaun Prince -- a 6'9" small forward. Was Rip Hamilton then not a SG?

    Vlade Divac often ran the offense for his teams -- was he not a center?

    Here's a flip argument -- Duncan claims to be a PF, but he's functioned as San Antonio's center since Robinson retired. What is he?

    Magic was a 6'9" ball-handler. By the standards of the late 70s NBA, he was too tall and too slow to be a PG. You've got to call him something, and not every player is easily boxed into a conventional descriptor. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and many great NBA players have defied conventional or era-appropriate positional descriptions. (Rodman did a center's job as a 6'7" small forward; Barkley was a 6'6" PF who ran the offense and took 3s; Ben Wallace was a 6'9" center in a body the same size as LeBron James'; etc.) There are more Euro Centers than Traditional Centers in the NBA today -- should we get rid of C altogether and just use OPF and IPF?

  24. AYC Says:

    Good post, Bill. I'd add that Larry Bird usually covered whichever forward was a weaker scorer, which meant he often covered power forwards, while Kevin McHale covered athletic small forwards like Nique. So who was the SF and who was the PF?

    It's also worth mentioning that Magic's role with the Lakers changed over time. He might not have played center often, but early in his career he did play a lot at power forward; they already had Norm Nixon at the point, and PF was their weakest position; Magic had the size and rebounding ability to give them quality minutes at that spot. Playing at PF helps to explain how Magic was able to avg double figures rebounding on the '80 and '82 championship squads. When Norm Nixon was replaced by Byron Scott, Magic became the full-time PG; his rebounding totals dropped, and his assists rose as a result

  25. Cort Says:

    Johnson did not play center, watch the whole game. Just because Johnson said he was going to play center to Hot Rod Hundley doesnt make it true, obviously. Shaq said he made FTs when they counted too. Does that make it true as well, because he said it? He obviously didnt. Johnson was a shameless self-promoter, and still is, who never missed a camera.
    Johnson benefited from a huge size and weight advantage, but this usually went unsaid because people liked and were seduced by his fake persona and the NBA PR machine. However, Kareem was often put down for having a height advantage to explain away his dominance, because people didnt like him and he wasnt fake. Sullen often yes, but not a phony. Yet his size advantage wasnt as large as Johnson's. Bird was never guarded by 6-1 or 6-3 guards, or he would have scored at will. He almost did anyway.
    Bird was a far better defender than Johnson. Larry made 3 all-NBA defense 2nd teams 1982-84, when the coaches voted on it. Johnson gambled all the time for steals and never guarded the other team's best player or guard. McHale and Maxwell usually guarded the other team's best offensive forward because they were better 1 on 1 defender than Bird. But Larry was a great team defender and his all-around duties and minutes were so heavy it was asking too much to make him guard the other team's best scoring forward. I do agree that the power forward and small forward notions are usually useless. I dont see the delineations in most cases. I think it started with the 1977 Blazer title team, which had Maurice Lucas as the prototype power forward, and Bob Gross as the prototype move without the ball small forward. Greta guards like West, Robertson, Frazier, Westphal, DJ weent point guards of off guards - hey were just guards. Bird was a forwward who could play anywhere ont he court.
    In Basketball Digest articles from the early 1980s, Norm Nixon criticized Johnson heavily for gambling for steals (he also played only zone in college and LA played a thinly-veiled zone in the Riley years to hide Johnson's defensive deficiencies) and for holding the ball too long on the break and for pouting when he didnt have the ball. He also lamented that he had to guard the other team's best scoring and quick guard because Johnson couldnt.
    The FreeDarko book mention about Game 6 is mainly from Darryl Dawkins, who said in his autobiography that Johnson didnt play center. Just because a guy scores on a center a few times doesnt make him a center. Happens in every game when a guard drives in and scores. I thought the book was pretty good, mostly essays. Read it before you put it down.

  26. Keith Ellis Says:

    Magic said he played C. Hot Rod said it. Bill Russell & Brent Musberger did, too. What everybody saw & believed in 1980 can't be contradicted on a whim by Darko or an embarrassed DDawkins thirty years later.

    Magic not only scored while playing Center; he defended Dawkins in the post (see the YouTube video), too. Sure, Kobe Bryant make a key defensive switch on Dwight Howard in the '09 Finals -- but nobody in 2009 said Kobe "started the game at Center" in place of either Bynum or Gasol. Magic DID start Game Six at Center in place of the injured Abdul, who BTW is hardly underappreciated as the recipient of six MVP awards.

    If we must pick the better player I, too, take Jabbar over Johnson. Bird, I'm not so sure. All three are amongst the Top Ten ABA/NBA pros ever. Norm Nixon is hardly one to criticize a teammate's penchant for gambling on Defense; the post-post-Merger Year NN stole at a rabbit's clip & in his soph season cracked 200 thefts.

    Perhaps we can concile ourselves, Cort, w/ the statement that Magic Johnson "started Game Six at Center & eventually played all five positions in a dominating performance," as Darko's cyber-colleague Wikipedia retells the story. Sure, most of us know there are only three positions in Bkb -- Center, Forward, Guard. Twenty-year-old Magic, by showing such flash (albeit briefly) in the moment his club most needed their Center, proved he could fill all five holes on a basketball court, denominations be damned.

  27. Keith Ellis Says:

    A precursor of the "mythologizing" that Magic played Center to clinch Game Six in Philly is the fable that Willis Reed "played Center" in the renowned Game Seven at MSG ten years before Earvin. In reality the late Nate Bowman spent almost half the game at Center, as Reed was used sparingly (by normal standards) there.

    That 1970 Game Seven boxscore, BTW, apportions Knick minutes easily per-position. DeBusschere & Stallworth's strong-forward minutes sum exactly 48, as do Bradley & Cazzie's at the other wing. Riordan occupied all ten of Frazier & Barnett's missed minutes in the backcourt, & as noted Bowman's 21 minutes dovetailed w/ Reed's 27.

  28. Keith Ellis Says:

    Twiddling its thumbs w/ the lockout underway & its 30 franchises as defunct as the Pittsburgh Condors or Baltimore Claws, the NBA today sets the official historical record straight regarding Magic Johnson, rookie Center --

  29. LT Jaeger Says:

    Cort, Magic's size advantage was CONSTANTLY measured throughout his career, as it should have been. While I agree that Kareem was the MVP of the playoffs, and have heard a number of times that a re-vote was taken so CBS would have someone to interview after the game, Magic did indeed play center during that game, along with some time at G & F. The Lakers had Brad Holland, Michael Cooper, Jamaal Wilkes and Norm Nixon on the court at the same time; obviously Magic was the center in that combination.

    As for the Riley zone used by those teams, it was more of a half-court trap to take advantage of the quickness of having Cooper, Nixon, Wilkes, Magic and McAdoo on the court at the same time rather than to hide anyone's deficiencies. If anything, the trap was used MORE when Magic was off the court than when he was on it.

  30. latopia Says:

    Cort Says on June 29th, 2011 at 12:19 am anthony: yes plus kareem originally won the 1980 finals mvp but then they re-voted when he wasnt there

    This is either fabricated or unsubstantiated. According to the Wiki entry for the 1980 Finals, Abdul-Jabbar twisted his ankle in Game 5; Magic started at C in Game 6, tookover, brought home LAL's 1st trophy for the 80's.

    n.b. KAJ maintained a double-double throughout the Finals; but so did Magic, who almost averaged a triple and did, in fact, do so in Games 5 & 6.

  31. Charles Says:

    Gene Conley wins 3 NBA titles with the Celtics and 1 World Series with the Milwaukee Braves.

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