When the Wizards tip off against the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday, March 8, Randy Wittman will join a select group of coaches: those who have coached at least 500 regular season games in the NBA. It’s a club with just 75 members. At the top is Phil Jackson, with the highest career regular season winning percentage of anyone, at .704—plus a jawdropping 11 NBA championships (all stats from basketball-reference.com).
But in his own way, Wizards coach Wittman will also stand alone: he’ll own the lowest career winning percentage of any coach with at least 500 regular-season games in NBA history.
You read that right. Worst coach ever, if we measure by the ultimate hard-edged metric, wins and losses.
Worse than Bernie Bickerstaff (.447, over 937 games from 1986 to 2013).
Worse than Eddie Jordan (.428, over 600 games from 1997 to 2010).
And even worse than the current low man on the 500-game totem pole—yes, that’s right, another Wizards/Bullets coach, Wes Unseld (.369, over 547 games coaching the Bullets from 1988 to 1994).
Even if the Wiz go 12-0 after tonight’s win against the Kings, Wittman will reach 500 games with a career winning percentage of .368, a notch worse than Unseld.
And if the Wizards do a more typical 6-6, Wittman will reach the 500-game mark at .356. That’s only a little more than half of Phil Jackon’s career winning percentage in the regular season.
To look it another way: In the history of the NBA, only three men have coached at least 500 games and had career regular-season winning percentages below .400. Two of those three—and the two worst of all time, by winning percentage—are Wizards/Bullets coaches, Wes Unseld and Randy Wittman. (The third coach is Tom Nissalke, who at least had a winning record as a coach in the old ABA.)
But at least Wittman’s got something to look forward to this year: Unless the Wizards do a face-plant, he’ll finally make the playoffs and wriggle off the hook of another dubious record—zero playoff games. No other coaching member of the 500-game club has never appeared in the playoffs—though, again, Unseld comes close at just five (1988: first-round series loss to Detroit).
Breaking a one-of-a-kind playoff schneid in 2014 ain’t much. But unless Ted Leonsis reads this blog post and snaps out of his stupor, it’ll probably be enough to keep Randy Wittman employed another year.