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Bill Sharman

NBA Champion
NBA All-Star
NBA All-Star Game MVP

Things to Know

A coach as triumphant as his shot.

Few in NBA history enjoyed the kind of success Bill Sharman did as both a player and coach. He was one of the top shooters and an All-NBA performer in his playing days with the Boston Celtics. As a professional coach, he won titles in three different leagues and oversaw the longest regular-season win streak in NBA history, too.

A former baseball and basketball star at USC, Sharman signed a minor league baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950. Later that year the Washington Capitols drafted him in the second round of the NBA Draft, and for the next five years he played both sports. Unable to break into the majors, he abandoned his baseball career in 1955.

After being traded to the Celtics before the 1951-52 season, Sharman played 10 seasons in Boston, pairing with Bob Cousy to form one of the NBA’s most formidable backcourts of all time. He was one of the first guards to push his field goal percentage above 40% in a season, doing so from 1952-61.
Sharman led the league in free-throw shooting a record seven seasons (including five straight), ranks in the Top 20 all-time (88.3%) and holds the NBA playoff record with 56 straight made free throws.

An eight-time All-Star, Sharman was All-Star Game MVP in 1955 after a 10-point fourth quarter in a 100-91 win. He was a key part of the Celtics' success in the 1950s, winning four championships (1957, 1959-61) and averaged 18.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg and 2.6 apg in the playoffs from 1952-61.

After retiring in 1961, Sharman became a successful coach, becoming the only one to win championships in three professional leagues: the American Basketball League (1962), the American Basketball Association (1971) and the NBA (1972). In his NBA coaching career spent with the San Francisco Warriors (1966-68) and Lakers (1971-76), Sharman went 333-240 and made two Finals. His 1971-72 Lakers set an NBA record by winning 33 straight games from Nov. 5 to Jan. 7 of that season.

One of Sharman’s lasting legacies as coach was his introduction of the game-day “shootaround,” a light morning practice session that most (if not all) NBA and college teams still use today.
Sharman stepped down as coach after the 1975-76 season and became the Lakers' general manager, a job he held until 1982, when he became club president while guiding the Lakers’ dynasty of the 1980s as the team captured championships in 1985, ’87, and ’88.

Sharman was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976 and in 2004 as a coach. When he was enshrined as a coach in 2004, he became the third person to make the Hall as a player and coach (joining Lenny Wilkens and John Wooden). In 1996, Sharman was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history.


NBA 75th Anniversary Team: Bill Sharman

NBA 75th Anniversary Team: Bill Sharman

Bill Sharman from way downtown: 1957

Bill Sharman from way downtown: 1957



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Selected for being pioneers that have helped shape, define, and redefine the game. This is the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.