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Did Jack McKinney come back after his accident?

Jack McKinney is one of the people who helped to create the Showtime Lakers and yet he is not anywhere near known enough despite the integral work he did with the Lakers and other NBA teams. 

Did Jack McKinney come back after his accident? Jack McKinney did not return to the Lakers after his accident but did return to NBA coaching, being the head coach of the Indiana Pacers and Kansas City Kings. 

Jack McKinney had his coaching career completely altered by the accident he had. McKinney had an awful cycling accident where his brakes locked as he was heading towards a top sign, causing him to fall over his handlebars, hitting his head pretty hard on the concrete. 

It put McKinney into a three-day coma as well as giving him a bad concussion. It was a life-threatening accident that competently changed the career of McKinney. Part of the reason why it was so life-changing was that his interim replacement, former assistant Paul Westhead, performed excellently in McKinney’s absence. 

It meant that when McKinney was ready to return to coaching, Lakers owner Jerry Buss decided to stick with Westhead, firing McKinney. It meant that he never returned to the Lakers after his accident. But McKinney did return to NBA coaching after his accident. 

Who did Jack McKinney coach after the Lakers? 

McKinney did return to basketball coaching after his accident, just not with the Los Angeles Lakers. After being fired by the Lakers, team owner Jerry Buss felt very guilty about the firing. So Buss did all he could to get McKinney another job, recommending him to his business partner Frank Mariani, who was the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. 

Mariani decided to hire McKinney as the head coach of the Pacers and it meant the coach did have his return to the NBA and basketball coaching even if it was not with the Indiana Pacers. 

Did Jack McKinney win coach of the year? 

Frank Mariani’s decision to hire Jack McKinney as a coach looked like it worked out perfectly, as McKinney won coach of the year in his first season in Indiana. When he was hired, the Pacers finished eighth in the east and missed out on the playoffs. In his first season with the Pacers, McKinney led the team to seven more wins than the previous season and to the first round of the playoffs. 

Despite losing in the first round of the playoffs, it was an incredible achievement to lead the Pacers to the first round, considering their side had no superstars. McKinney was such a good coach that seven players averaged double-digit points in the season, with no player averaging more than 18 points per game.

It was a brilliant achievement for McKinney but he struggled after winning the coach of the year title. Mariani remained with the Pacers over the next three seasons, including being the coach when the Pacers had the worst record In the league in the 1983-84 season. McKinney resigned after that season. 

Did Jack McKinney coach after the Indiana Pacers 

During his entire time after coaching the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers, McKinney did have a very short role as the head coach of the Kansas City Kings who are now the Sacramento Kings. After being fired from the Pacers, it was not long after that McKinney was hired by the Kings. 

But the team went 1-8 to start the season and McKinney soon left the team. The issue for McKinney was that he never really fully recovered from the head injury. After leaving the Kings, McKinney left basketball coaching completely. 

The issue for McKinney was that he struggled to properly recover from the head injury. McKinney struggled with memory issues after the accident. The seriousness of the injury meant there were long-lasting effects and it hampered his career. McKinney also said he left coaching as he did not feel passionate about coaching. 

Did Jack McKinney win an NBA title? 

Despite helping to set up the Showtime Lakers as well as winning a coach of the year title, McKinney never won an NBA title as a head coach. However, he did win an NBA title as an assistant coach. 

After two seasons in the NBA as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Jack Ramsay hired McKinney. The pair had worked together before, with McKinney being an assistant for Ramsay while he was the head coach of Saint Joseph’s, with McKinney taking over as head coach when Ramsay left for his first NBA head coaching job in charge of the Philadelphia 76ers. 

They had already won three Big 5 titles together in college and the pair worked incredibly well in the NBA. Ramsay brought in McKinney almost as soon as he was appointed head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers who had not made the playoffs since they were introduced to the NBA in 1970. 

Despite this, the Trail Blazers went 49-33 which was enough for 3rd in the West. The team was built around young stars like Maurice Lucas and Bill Walton who both averaged more than 18 points and 11 rebounds per game across the regular season. Both players continued playing excellently in the playoffs. 

It began with the Blazers winning 2-1 against the Bulls in the first round, before defeating the Nuggets in the second round. The Blazers met the Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Finals, the team McKinney would coach in the future. The Blazers swept the Lakers to head to the finals. 

In the finals, the Blazers came up against the Philadelphia 76ers who were led by future Hall of Famers Julius Erving and George McGinnis. After the Sixers took a 2-0 lead, the Blazers won four straight games to win the title, the team’s first and only title. 

Bill Walton was awarded as the Finals MVP, mainly for defeating Julius Erving. It gave Jack McKinney his only title in the NBA as well as Jack Ramsay’s only title as an NBA coach.