On Saturday, Dec. 2, Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle won his 700th career game as the Mavs defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 108-82. Carlisle now ranks 18th all-time in wins. Only two active coaches, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and the Clippers’ Doc Rivers, have more.
Carlisle notched his first victory on November 2, 2001 as the coach of the Detroit Pistons. They beat the Memphis Grizzlies on the road, 90-80. That season, Carlisle coached the Pistons to a record of 50-32. The team posted an identical record the following season. However, Detroit let Carlisle go after the 2002-03 season, replacing him with Larry Brown.
For the next four seasons, Carlisle coached the Indiana Pacers, often battling his former club for Eastern Conference dominance. He amassed a record of 181-147 with the Pacers and coached through one of the greatest challenges in modern NBA history following the “Malice in the Palace” on November 19, 2004 that resulted in numerous suspensions to key players. Somehow, that team made the playoffs. The following season, after a roster shakeup, the Pacers were not so lucky and Carlisle was out of the job.
He remained out of the NBA during the 2007-08 season, working as an analyst for ESPN. In the summer of 2008, the Mavericks came calling.
“I was part of the recruiting process when we brought him here,” Dirk Nowitzki recalled following the win over the Clippers. “We met at [owner Mark] Cuban’s house. It was in the summertime. It was a great meeting. Rick, as you guys know, is smart, he can speak, just had a great presentation really. It was a wrap from there. We all wanted him. He even showed us some stuff in Mark’s living room. I kind of posted up one of the chairs and he showed me some of the moves that [Kevin] McHale used to use. He’s just a smart, smart man with a lot of basketball knowledge. We knew basically from that meeting that he was the guy.”
The Mavericks hired Carlisle as their new head coach on May 9.
Carlisle is now in his 10th season with the Mavs. His contributions to the success of the franchise are almost innumerable. With him at the helm, Dallas has totaled four 50-win seasons and posted a record of 419-326. Oh, and he helped lead the franchise to its only championship in 2011.
It’s almost unquestionable whether Carlisle will go down as the greatest coach in Mavericks’ history. The championship alone is almost enough to outweigh the accomplishments of any other Dallas coach including the likes of Dick Motta and Don Nelson. However, Carlisle doesn’t care how history views him. His focus is on making the team he has now better.
“I really wasn’t counting to tell you the truth,” Carlisle said of getting his 700th win. “It just means that I’ve been very fortunate. I had three great owners and a lot of great players. We’ve got a long way to go. I really have never been one to count that kind of stuff. As time goes on, I count those things even less. It’s just day-to-day and trying to help improve the situation.”