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Hall Pass – Al Attles

In 2014, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame honored Warriors Legend & Ambassador Al Attles with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, presented annually to a coach, player or contributor whose outstanding accomplishments have impacted the high school, college, professional or international game. Take a look at a few notes and numbers behind Attles becoming the 42nd recipient of this esteemed award:

For as long as the Warriors have been in California (since 1962), Attles has had a role with the organization. His career with the team actually began in 1960, two years prior to the club’s West Coast move, when he was selected by the Philadelphia Warriors in the fifth round of the NBA draft. Following an 11-year playing career, his tenure with the club continued with stints as a head coach, general manager, vice president and ambassador.

Attles has coached more seasons (14) and games (1,075) than any other head man in team history, and only Chris Mullin has played in more seasons for the Warriors (13) than Attles, who ranks fifth all-time in games played (711). All told, his time with the Warriors has spanned 54 consecutive years, making him the longest tenured employee of any NBA team.

1 Chris Mullin 807
2 Nate Thurmond 757
3 Jeff Mullins 716
4 Paul Arizin 713
5 Al Attles 711
6 Rick Barry 642
7 Adonal Foyle 641
8 Larry Smith 617
9 Purvis Short 614
10 Guy Rodgers 587

It’s difficult to quantify Attles’ statistical value on the defensive end for a few reasons. The NBA didn’t begin naming All-Defensive Teams—which former players insist he would have frequented—until 1968-69, his ninth season in the league. And never mind the advanced metrics of today’s NBA. Even the two most basic defensive stat categories, steals and blocks, were not officially recorded until 1973-74, three years after Attles retired from playing.

What we can look at for perspective on Attles’ defensive impact is the success of his teams on that side of the ball. According to Basketball-Reference, the Warriors ranked in the top half of the league in defensive rating (estimated points allowed per 100 possessions) in all but one of The Destroyer’s 11 seasons, boasting a top 3 rating in seven of those campaigns.

On March 2, 1962, Attles went a perfect 8-of-8 from the field, while also hitting his only free throw attempt, to finish as the team’s second-leading scorer in a win over the Knicks. His efficient 17-point game was overshadowed slightly by his teammate, Wilt Chamberlain, who scored an NBA-record 100 points that same night in Hershey, PA.

With 30 games remaining in the 1969-70 season, Attles took on duel responsibilities as Golden State’s player/coach, a role he held for the entire 1970-71 season before serving exclusively as head coach for the next 12 years. By the time he transitioned into a general manager role following the 1982-83 season, Attles had coached 1,075 games for the Warriors, winning 557 of them—both team records.

1 Al Attles 14 1075 557 518 .518
2 Don Nelson 11 865 422 443 .448
3 Edward Gottlieb 9 581 263 318 .453
4 Johnny Bach 4 267 95 172 .356
5 Alex Hannum 3 240 100 140 .417

Attles is one of only 26 coaches in NBA history with over 1,000 games on his resume and is one of only 11 coaches to amass over 500 victories with a single franchise. He’s also tied with Ed Gottlieb for the most postseason appearances in Warriors lore (six), more than doubling Gottlieb with a franchise-leading 31 playoff victories. And of course, it was Attles at the helm of the 1974-75 squad that captured the first NBA championship in the Warriors’ West Coast history.

In the 1975 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors fought back from a 3-2 deficit in the Western Conference Finals to defeat the Chicago Bulls in seven games, advancing to face the 60-win Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals. Attles, a player on Warriors teams that fell just short of NBA glory in both 1964 and 1967, led the Warriors to a 4-0 series sweep against the heavily favored Bullets, winning those four games by a combined 16 points—including a pair of one-point victories.

In addition to having a hand in raising the 1974-75 championship banner, Attles has another, more personal banner hanging from the rafters at Oracle Arena as his No. 16 is one of only six retired numbers in Warriors franchise history.

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