Which players, teams and coaches have the most wins in the NBA Playoffs?

Regular-season success in the NBA plays a part in defining the legacies of players, coaches and franchises, but it's what is done in the playoffs that matters most. Who are the winningest players, teams and coaches in the NBA playoffs?
2020 NBA Finals - Game Six
2020 NBA Finals - Game Six / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Playoff success is the measure by which NBA players, coaches and franchises are ultimately judged. The regular season is often viewed as nothing but the necessary portal to postseason glory.

One need look no further than the case of Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson, who was the leading winner among coaches for more than a decade with 1,335 regular-season victories. But over 31 seasons, Nelson's teams never reached the NBA Finals and his 75-91 record in the NBA Playoffs was used to downplay Nelson as a good coach rather than a great one.

Indeed, among the top 10 coaches on the all-time wins list, Nelson is the only one never to coach in the Finals and is among just three (George Karl and Rick Adelman are the others) in that group without a championship.

Players face the same critique. Among the winningest players in postseason history, you have to go all the way down to Karl Malone — tied for 32nd all-time with 98 postseason wins — to find a player without a ring.

But who are the ultimate winners on the NBA's biggest stage?

Which players have the most wins in the NBA Playoffs?

With a 117-109 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals during the 2020 NBA Playoffs, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers passed Derek Fisher as the all-time leader in postseason wins by a player with his 162nd. He's added 20 more since, including eight last season as the Lakers made a run from the No. 7 seed in the West to the conference finals.

James' first playoff win came on April 22, 2006, in the first round against the Washington Wizards. In his third season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was LeBron's first postseason appearance and he delivered a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 97-86 victory.

He's gone on to win four NBA championships with three teams, including the Lakers in 2020. Fisher remains second on the list with 161 playoff victories, followed by Tim Duncan (157), Robert Horry (155) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (154). Abdul-Jabbar's place on the list is significant, as he only played six of his 20 seasons in the era of 16-team playoffs.

Which teams have the most wins in the NBA Playoffs?

The winningest team in the history of the NBA Playoffs shouldn't come as a surprise. The Los Angeles Lakers franchise had reached the postseason in 63 of its 75 seasons through 2022-23, went to the NBA Finals in more than half of those (32) and share the all-time record with the Boston Celtics, having won 17 championships.

The Lakers have won 464 playoff games, 57 more than Boston, and have the best winning percentage as well at .597 (464-313). The franchise's first five championships were won over a six-year stretch from 1949-54 as the Minneapolis Lakers. Since moving to L.A. in 1960, the Lake Show has titles in 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-88, 2000-02, 2009-10 and 2020.

The Celtics are next on the list with 407, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers (248), the San Antonio Spurs (222) and the Golden State Warriors (212). Unlike the other four teams in the top five, the Spurs were not part of the league from the earliest days, joining the NBA from the ABA in 1976.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, an expansion entry to the NBA in 1989, have the fewest playoff wins among active franchises with 21.

Which coaches have the most wins in the NBA Playoffs?

Just six coaches in NBA history have led their teams to at least 100 wins in the NBA Playoffs, led by 11-time champion Phil Jackson. His teams reached the postseason in each of his 20 seasons in the lead chair on the bench, amassing a record of 229-104 with 13 NBA Finals appearances and just two first-round exits.

Pat Riley is a distant second on the list with 171 playoff wins, while Gregg Popovich leads active coaches with 170, all with the San Antonio Spurs. The rest of the 100-victory club includes Doc Rivers (111), Erik Spoelstra (109) and Larry Brown (100).

Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors is close to joining the elite club as he enters the 2023-24 season with 99 wins in the NBA Playoffs, tied with the legendary Red Auerbach.

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