Suns Add Al Bianchi to Coaching Staff
Posted: Feb. 18, 2002
The Phoenix Suns and Head Coach Frank Johnson completed the team’s coaching staff with the addition of Al Bianchi as assistant coach. Bianchi has spent the last nine seasons as a college scout for Phoenix and owns 45 years of basketball experience as a player, coach, scout or general manager.
“Al has a lot to offer and he’s a guy who’s been around the game a long time. This is my first head coaching experience and I certainly don’t know it all. So when the opportunity presented itself, there were some other names that came up, but Al was at the top of my list,” Johnson said. “His specific duties will be just to help me grow as a coach -- to offer insight. This is a guy who’s been in this business for a long, long time and I think that he can be good for me. He’s another voice for me.”
Being on the bench is nothing new to Bianchi, who was an assistant coach with Phoenix for 12 seasons from 1975-87 with John MacLeod. He was also part of the startup of the Chicago Bulls franchise along with Jerry Colangelo and Johnny Kerr and served as an assistant coach in the Bulls' first season in 1966.
“Over the years Frank was one guy who would always ask me what I thought about the team. When this transpired, Frank asked me if I was interested in helping out as an assistant coach and I told him I would,” Bianchi said. “College scouting is winding down this season and if I can help in any way or add anything, I’m happy to do it.”
Bianchi twice served as a head coach at the professional level. He was the first head coach in Seattle SuperSonics history and guided the Sonics for the 1967-68 and 1969-70 seasons. He then moved over to the ABA and directed the Virginia Squires from 1969-75 where he coached Julius Erving and George Gervin.
In addition to his coaching experience, Bianchi returned to his native New York to serve as general manager of the New York Knicks from 1987-91 and he was the general manager at Virginia in his first season as coach of the Squires.
As a player, Bianchi was drafted by Minneapolis in 1954, but did not play due to a two-year stint with the Army Medical Corps. After his military time ended, Bianchi enjoyed a 10-year pro playing career with the Syracuse Nationals in the ABA and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bianchi graduated from Bowling Green University and is a native of Long Island City, New York.