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John MacLeod (1937–2019), Phoenix Suns all-time winningest head coach

Getty Images / Doug Pensinger

Also coached Notre Dame, the Knicks, and the Mavericks

John MacLeod was the all-time winningest coach in Phoenix Sun’s history, leading them to 579 wins and the NBA finals in 1976, where the underdog Suns lost to the Boston Celtics, 4 games to 2. The 1976 championship featured a legendary triple overtime victory by the Celtics in game 5. MacLeod coached the Suns from 1973 until 1987, then was head coach for the Dallas Mavericks for 2 seasons and the Knicks for most of the 1990-91 season. He moved to college to become head basketball coach at Notre Dame for eight seasons.

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Died: Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Who else died on April 14?)

Details of death: Died from Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 81.


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Phoenix Suns Statement: “His passion for the game was matched only by his endearing personality, humility and class, a man who was loved by everyone that had the pleasure of interacting with him. Coach MacLeod was a winner in every sense and will be dearly missed by our entire Phoenix Suns family.”

What they said about him: “He was very passionate about his coaching and did a fabulous job in getting us to the 1976 Finals. I think the success of his teams, especially early back then, is a testament to what he was able to create in terms of culture. ... Sure, some players came and went, but it was John MacLeod that kept it all together.” —Former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo told Arizona Central

“JOHN MacLEOD was not only a good coach but was a MAN of great INTEGRITY & as good as a person you could ever meet. Pls God May he RIP ! We need more like him in college basketball!” —Basketball announcer Dick Vitale on Twitter

Full obituary: Arizona Central

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