College - San Diego
Bernie Bickerstaff was named an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers in July 2013. He brings almost 40 years of NBA experience to fellow University of San Diego alumnus Mike Brown’s bench.
Most recently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers (2012-13), Portland Trail Blazers (2010-12) and Chicago Bulls (2008-10), and prior to his time in Portland and Chicago, Bickerstaff was tabbed to guide the newly founded Charlotte Bobcats as both general manager and head coach in the team’s first three seasons (2004-07) before serving as the club’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2007-08.
Bickerstaff, the 1986-87 NBA Coach of the Year, owns a 415-517 (.445) NBA head coaching record over 13 seasons with Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte while ranking 39th on the NBA’s all-time victories list. Receiving his first NBA head coaching opportunity with the Seattle Supersonics in 1985, Bickerstaff led his team to three playoff appearances over five seasons in the Pacific Northwest, one of which included a trip to the 1987 Conference Finals.
Following his time in Seattle, Bickerstaff joined the Denver Nuggets in 1990 as President and General Manager. During six-plus seasons in Denver, he was responsible for selecting four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo in the 1991 NBA Draft while his team made history in the 1994 Playoffs, becoming the first eighth-seed to defeat a top seed in the first round. Bickerstaff took on head coaching responsibilities from 1994-96 but returned to his role solely as General Manager after hiring a coaching replacement 13 games into the 1996-97 season.
Midway through the 1996-97 season, Bickerstaff returned to Washington where he began his NBA coaching career back in 1973 as the league’s youngest assistant coach at age 29. From 1973-85, he served in that capacity with the then Bullets, helping guide Washington to the 1978 NBA Championship, three NBA Finals appearances and 10 playoff berths. This time around as a head coach, Bickerstaff inherited a team that was 22-25 over the first 47 games. In spite of the sub .500 record, he guided the club to a 22-13 mark following the All-Star break that included a 16-5 record in the final 21 games as Washington qualified for the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons. Bickerstaff concluded his tenure in Washington with a 77-72 (.517) record after coaching most of the 1998-99 season.
Prior to coaching, Bickerstaff played two seasons each for the Univ. of San Diego and the Univ. of Rio Grande, where he was later awarded an honorary doctorate. San Diego also offered him his first coaching opportunity. Named an assistant coach for the 1968-69 season, he was elevated to head coach a year later and served in that capacity for the next four seasons. Through the years, Bickerstaff has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades. In 1987, he earned the prestigious Horace Mann Award for Leadership and was also named the 1987 Sports Person of the Year, presented by the New York Pro-Am Basketball Association. In 1995, Bickerstaff was inducted into the University of San Diego's Hall of Fame, was later inducted into the West Coast Conference’s inaugural Hall of Honor and was a 2012 Breitbard Hall of Fame inductee. In 2010, he was inducted into the John McClendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame and in 2011, was named a Kappa Legend and Icon in Sports. His hometown of Benham, Kentucky even named a street – Bernard Bickerstaff Boulevard – in his honor.
Bickerstaff, who has also served as a TV and radio analyst with the Wizards, Spurs, Sporting News Radio and NBA.com, and his wife, Eugenia, have five children and 11 grandchildren. Their youngest son, John-Blair is an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets.