Van Breda Kolff talks with Gail Goodrich, Archie Clark, & Jerry West
Ex-Lakers Coach Butch Van Breda Kolff DiesAssociated Press
August 23, 2007
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Former college and professional basketball coach Butch Van Breda Kolff, who twice led the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals and coached Bill Bradley at Princeton, has died after a long illness.
Van Breda Kolff, 84, died Wednesday afternoon at a nursing home in Spokane, his daughter, Kristina Van Breda Kolff, said.
He posted a 482-272 coaching record in 28 college seasons and was 287-316 in 10 seasons as an NBA and ABA coach. He took six teams to the NCAA Tournament at a time when tournament berths were much scarcer, and won seven conference titles.
Willem Hendrik Van Breda Kolff was born Oct. 28, 1922, in Montclair, N.J. He attended Princeton University, but his college career was interrupted by duty with the Marines in World War II.
Butch gives shooting tips to Jerry Chambers
Van Breda Kolff began his coaching career at Lafayette in 1951 and went on to coach Hofstra, Princeton and New Orleans. He went 103-31 at Princeton, winning four Ivy League titles, and led Hofstra to a 23-1 record in 1959-60. He ranks 74th all-time in college wins.
In the professional ranks, he was a success right away, leading a Lakers team with Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain to the NBA Finals two years in a row, where they lost to the Boston Celtics. His pro resume included stops in Detroit (1969-72), Phoenix (part of the 1972-73 season), the Memphis Tams of the ABA (1973-74), the New Orleans Jazz (1974-77) and the New Orleans Pride of the Women's Basketball League from 1979-81.
Van Breda Kolff and his wife Florence had three daughters, Karen, Kristina and Kaatje. Their son Jan is a former professional player and college head coach at Cornell, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine and St. Bonaventure.
Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss on Van Breda Kolff's passing:
Although it was many years ago, and before my ownership of the team, Butch Van Breda Kolff was an important part of the Lakers success during our early years in Los Angeles. Were sorry to hear of his passing and would like to send our condolences to his family and friends.
Jerry West on Van Breda Kolff's passing:
Butch was a real basketball purist who believed in a team-oriented game, and I enjoyed playing for him very much. Not only did I have two of the best seasons of my career while he was our coach, but our team enjoyed a high level of success as well, even though we unfortunately lost to the Celtics in the NBA Finals both years. Im saddened to hear that hes passed away and send my deepest sympathies to his family.