50th Season | History Of Jazz Coaches: Tom Nissalke

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

As the Utah Jazz celebrate their 50th anniversary this season, it’s a great time to reflect on the long and proud history of the nine coaches who’ve been the leading man of the Jazz. 

From Scotty Robertson in 1974 to Will Hardy in 2022, the Jazz have been blessed with some of the greatest coaches in league history throughout their rich history. Read below for a look back at each coach, and see how the Jazz got to this point in history. 

3.) Tom Nissalke | 1979-81
With a coaching career that spanned nearly 40 years, Nissalke was the third coach in Utah history. 

He has one of the rarest distinctions in basketball coaching history, having been named 'Coach of the Year' in both the ABA and NBA. Throughout his career, Nissalke was head coach of seven NBA/ABA teams and an assistant for three teams, winning an NBA title as an assistant with Milwaukee in 1971. 

Before he broke into the professional ranks, Nissalke made a name for himself as head coach of Wayland Academy in Wisconsin. He moved up to the college ranks at the University of Wisconsin and Tulane as an assistant before jumping to the pro ranks with the Bucks. From there, he bounced around multiple professional leagues, including the ABA and NBA. 

His coaching credentials also include the Olympics, where he served as head coach of the Puerto Rico national team at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. They finished 2-5 in the tournament, nearly pulling off a massive upset of the United States when they fell 94-93. 

Nissalke passed away on August 22, 2019, at his home in Salt Lake City.

- NBA Champion (1971)
- ABA Coach of the Year (1972)
- NBA Coach of the Year (1977)

- Dallas Chaparrals | 42-42
- San Antonio Spurs | 63-49
- Utah Stars | 18-26
- Seattle SuperSonics | 13-32
- Houston Rockets | 124-122
- Utah Jazz | 60-124
- Cleveland Cavaliers | 51-113

CAREER: 371-508 | .422 winning percentage