Goorjian nears NBL record
Australia Post Boomers and Sydney Kings head coach Brian Goorjian is poised to break the National Basketball League’s (NBL) all-time record for games coached, a feat that would see him surpass the mark set by Melbourne Tigers legendary mentor Lindsay Gaze.
Goorjian has currently coached 649 Philips Championship games, just two shy of Gaze’s career record of 651.
Sydney’s charismatic leader should equal Gaze’s record on Monday in Wollongong against the Hawks and then break the record with his 652nd match at the helm on January 25 when the Kings meet archrivals the West Sydney Razorbacks at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre for the local derby.
Currently Goorjian has recorded 450 wins and 199 losses as an NBL head coach and is the winningest coach in NBL history, with an astounding 111 more wins to his credit than the second-ranked Gaze (339).
The 53-year-old Australia Post Boomers coach boasts an outstanding international record, winning 52 of his 80 games at an amazing 65% success rate, including 9-from-15 at Olympic, Commonwealth games and World Championship competition.
It is especially fitting that Goorjian should be the one to pass Gaze’s milestone, given the Tigers coach was the one who brought him out from America to play as an import player with Melbourne in their inaugural season in the Philips Championship back in 1984.
It is as a coach however that Goorjian has forged a reputation as one of Australian sports greatest leaders.
A five-time Coach of the Year, Goorjian is the first and only coach ever to win five NBL Championships.
His teams have made at least the Semi-Finals for the last 17 consecutive seasons, including finishing on top of the Philips Championship ladder for the past six straight seasons.
In his debut campaign as a head coach in 1988, Goorjian led the Eastside Spectres to an eighth-place finish with an 11-13 record. He improved that to seventh in 1989 with a 14-10 record. Every season since 1990, Goorjian has coached his team to at least a top four finish.
Goorjian said he genuinely still loved the game as much as he did when he started coaching.
“Reaching this milestone is something I’m personally very proud of, winning is obviously very important but to continue to have a genuine love and passion for the game after 19 seasons as a coach is very gratifying.”
"The nature of this game as a coach is to stay in there. You might win a championship but two years later you’re fired, so to have hung in there for almost 20 years means a lot.
“It seems like every year I’m getting more out of my involvement and passion for the game and those are the sort of things I look back on now and think to myself how fortunate I am to be in this position.”
The Australia Post Boomers and Kings mentor said he found it difficult to pick out just a few highlights of such a long career but tabbed Sydney’s third consecutive title in 2005 as something special.
“I have many memorable moments that I look back on with pride, including my first championship with Rob Rose at the South East Melbourne Magic in 1992. While my first two championships with Sydney were a highlight, I know I’ll always remember the third one because no team in this League has ever won three straight.”
Goorjian added that many of his fondest memories were associated with the players he had coached during his career.
“I enjoy helping develop players and watching them evolve. Chris Anstey becoming the first guy from this League to be drafted in the NBA, watching the continued success of Sam Mackinnon and seeing Kings captain Jason Smith develop as a person and a player over his 13 seasons are some of my real special moments.”
Despite reaching new territory for an NBL coach, Goorjian said he was still learning each season.
“The whole goal of a coach is to improve. I look back from my first years in the role to how I am now, the style of play I’ve adopted, my ability to develop players and know where I want to take something is extremely important.
“I haven’t mastered it all yet but I know I’ve definitely improved and will always have a real thirst for knowledge and love for the game of basketball in this country.”
All-time NBL Games Coached:
651 – Lindsay Gaze
649 – Brian Goorjian*
456 – Brian Kerle
437 – Alan Black*
372 – Brendan Joyce*
* = Active coaches
All-time NBL Coaching Wins:
450 – Brian Goorjian
339 – Lindsay Gaze
282 – Brian Kerle
252 – Alan Black
224 – Bob Turner
All-time NBL Coaching Losses:
312 – Lindsay Gaze
199 – Brian Goorjian
185 – Alan Black
178 – Brendan Joyce
174 – Brian Kerle
Coaching appearances in the final four
17 – Brian Goorjian
8 – Brian Kerle
7 – Lindsay Gaze, Bruce Palmer
6 – Bob Turner
5 – Cal Bruton, Phil Smyth, Brendan Joyce, Alan Black
4 – Barry Barnes, Alan Black, Ian Stacker
3 – Brett Brown, Ken Cole, Adrian Hurley, Mike Dunlap, Ken Richardson
2 – Geordie McLeod, Joey Wright, David Lindstrom, Gary Fox, Dave Claxton, Murray Arnold
1 – Dave Ankeney, Andy Campbell, Jim Ericksen, Brett Flanigan, Jerry Lee, Don Shipway, Cal Stamp, Ray Tomlinson, Alan Westover, Scott Fisher
NBL Championships as a Coach:
5 – Brian Goorjian,
4 – Brian Kerle
3 – Phil Smyth,
2 – Lindsay Gaze, Bob Turner,
1 – Murray Arnold, Alan Black, Brett Brown, Cal Bruton, Ken Cole, Jim
Ericksen, Adrian Hurley, Brendan Joyce, Jerry Lee, Bruce Palmer, Ken
Richardson, Alan Westover
NBL career Grand Final matches:
32 – Brian Goorjian
12 – Lindsay Gaze
12 – Brian Kerle
8 – Gordie McLeod
8 – Phil Smyth
6 – Cal Bruton
6 – Adrian Hurley
6 – Brendan Joyce
Goorjian Career Record:
Regular season matches: coached 553, won 392 - lost 161 (70.8%won)
Regular playoff matches: coached 64, won 43 - lost 21 (67.2% won)
Grand Final matches: coached 32, won 15 - lost 17 (46.8% won)
Goorjian’s Biggest Career Win:
54 points – South East Melbourne 160 def Townsville Crocodiles 106 at
Melbourne Park (24/7/94)
Goorjian’s Biggest Career Loss:
37 points – Melbourne Tigers 111 def Sth East Melb 74 at Melbourne Park
25/10/97 (game one of grand final series)