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

by Kirk Fox

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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