The Top WNBA Coaches All the Time

Historically, the WNBA has produced some of the best women’s basketball players. Some of the most illustrious coaches in sports history have also come from it.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has witnessed the emergence of numerous outstanding coaches throughout its history, each leaving an indelible mark on the league and the sport of women’s basketball. These coaches have not only demonstrated their expertise on the sidelines but have also played pivotal roles in shaping the careers of some of the most iconic athletes in the game. In this exploration of the top WNBA coaches of all time, we will delve into the careers, achievements, and legacies of these remarkable individuals who have consistently raised the bar for excellence in women’s basketball coaching. From championship triumphs to their enduring impact on the growth and popularity of the league, these coaches have left an indomitable imprint on the WNBA, earning them a place in the annals of its storied history.

Cheryl Reeve (2010-present)

Reeve, who is now managing the Minnesota Lynx, becomes the second WNBA coach to win four titles (2011, ’13, ’15, ’17) after the aforementioned Chancellor. Before Minnesota’s 2022 season got off to a terrible start, Reeve had only experienced one losing season, which was her first with the Lynx in 2010. Reeve is the sixth coach in WNBA history to have coached at least 400 games. She won her 270th game in 2022, making her the most successful female coach in league history.  Reeve has won a league-high 41 postseason games as of the 2021 season. She is a three-time WNBA Coach of the Year (2011, ’16, and ’20).

Bill Laimbeer (2002-09; 2013-21)

Having been a member of two NBA championship teams during his playing days with the Pistons, Laimbeer was well-liked in Detroit. He achieved even greater success as the Detroit Shock’s coach. He played with the Shock, a now-defunct Dallas franchise, for portions of eight seasons and won three WNBA titles in 2003, 2006, and 2008. Following that, the two-time WNBA Coach of the Year led the Las Vegas Aces to a Finals berth in 2020 and recorded three seasons of 20 or more wins during a five-year tenure with New York. Being one of only four coaches with at least 500 games coached, Laimbeer is second all-time in WNBA history in terms of victories and boasts an incredible.577 winning % (306-215). His 37 postseason wins are the second most in WNBA history.

Van Chancellor (1997-2006)

As the coach of the Houston Comets that won the first four WNBA championships (1997–2000), Chancellor is tied for the most coaching titles in league history. With players like Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson, the Comets had some of the finest players in the league during Chancellor’s three-year tenure as WNBA Coach of the Year. Chancellor lived and worked in Houston throughout his basketball career. Chancellor did, however, experience a losing season just once in his ten years as the team’s manager (he went 211-111 in that time). Often regarded as the best team in WNBA history, his 1998 team finished 27-3.

Mike Thibault (2003-present)

Thibault, who turned 72 in September, is the only WNBA coach to have coached more games or amassed more victories in franchise history. He’s still in charge of the Washington Mystics, so he’s not finished yet. Before focusing on the women’s game, Thibault worked as an NBA assistant for a while with the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago, and Milwaukee. She has coached and won more than 630 games. Then, in 2019, Thibault finally won that elusive WNBA championship with Washington after missing out on three straight Finals appearances with the Connecticut Sun and Mystics. 

Anne Donovan (2000-07; 2009-10; 2013-15)

Donovan accomplished nearly everything in the realm of women’s basketball. Donovan represented the United States with two gold medals at the Olympics after winning an AIAW national championship at Old Dominion as a college standout. She ultimately found her way into the WNBA, coaching five different teams (Indiana, Charlotte, Seattle, New York, and Connecticut). However, in 2004, she made history as the first female head coach to win a WNBA championship, as she did so with the Storm. Of the eight WNBA coaches to win at least 200 games (206), Donovan passed away in 2018 at the age of 56 due to heart failure.

Sandy Brondello (2010; 2014-present)

Brondello was a 1999 WNBA All-Star who played for the Detroit Shock, Miami Sol, and Seattle Storm. She went on to have a stellar coaching career in the WNBA. 2010, San Antonio was the team she started head coaching in the league with. Brondello then returned to the head-coaching ranks following three seasons as an assistant with Los Angeles, where she led the Phoenix Mercury to the 2014 WNBA championship in her first season. Before joining the New York Liberty as its captain in 2022, the adored Australian played eight seasons in Phoenix. Over 160 regular-season games have been won by Brondello.

Lin Dunn (2000-02; 2008-14)

Dunn succeeded in the professional game after winning 447 games as a college coach and garnering recognition with USA Basketball. She started her coaching career in the ABL before moving on to the WNBA and leading the Seattle Storm as they expanded. Dunn finally came down with the Indiana Fever. In 2009, she led that team to the WNBA Finals during her second season, and in 2012, she led the Fever to a league championship. Dunn has been successful in the front office in addition to his coaching career, which has produced 168 professional wins over 334 games.

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