Johnson selected as first ever recipient by National Basketball Coaches Association
LAS VEGAS – Former Utah Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson, one of the most impactful and successful assistant coaches in NBA history, is the recipient of the inaugural Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award, the National Basketball Coaches Association announced today. Johnson was presented with the award during the Jazz game vs. Portland today at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
The National Basketball Coaches Association Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award honors the tremendous achievements and commitments of Hall of Fame coach Tex Winter, who over an outstanding NBA coaching career set a standard of integrity, competitive excellence, loyalty, and tireless promotion of NBA basketball. This year’s award recognizes the extraordinary contributions Johnson has made to the sport throughout his NBA career through building a body of work that has had a positive and powerful impact on the NBA coaching profession. Johnson has embodied the high standards and leadership philosophies that Tex Winter brought to the game.
“I would like to thank the National Basketball Coaches Association for the honor of being chosen as the first recipient of the National Basketball Coaches Association Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award,” said Johnson. “It is truly an honor. Three men chose me to be their first assistant: Dick Motta, Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan. We were more than co-workers; we were teammates, teachers, and ultimately friends for life. We were loyal to one another, and I was always free to express my opinions. I was lucky enough to be with teams who won much of the time because we had good players who were willing to work hard and wanted to learn. I thank them for listening to me. I am appreciative of the owners, the general managers, and my fellow assistant coaches I worked with throughout my career. I want my family to know I appreciate the many sacrifices they made over the years. To the NBA (my second family) to the teams we competed against, to the fans who came to cheer us on, for the many memories that last a lifetime, I say thank you all. It’s been a great ride.”
Johnson teamed with legendary Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan as his top assistant for all 23 of Sloan’s seasons coaching the Jazz (1988-2011), helping guide the Jazz to two NBA Western Conference championships, six division titles and 19 playoff appearances. A former NBA Coach of the Year, Johnson was widely acknowledged as one of the premier basketball coaches in the sport and was named the league’s top assistant prior to the 2005-06, 2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons.
“Coach Phil Johnson represents the absolute best in integrity, loyalty, basketball passion and coaching excellence,” said Jerry Sloan, a 2009 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee. “Our coaching careers not only reflect dedication, loyalty, and longevity, but also a phenomenal coaching path that expands to nearly 45 years through Dick Motta and Frank Layden. The success of the Utah Jazz organization during that time could not have been achieved without the hard work, dedication, and ingenuity of Phil. Phil bailed me out of a lot of tough basketball situations, and he has remained a special friend throughout the years. I am thrilled that Coach Phil Johnson is the inaugural National Basketball Coaches Association Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award recipient.”
Johnson also was a Jazz assistant on Frank Layden’s staff from 1982-84. In addition to his time as a Jazz assistant, Johnson was twice the head coach of the Kings franchise and was selected the 1975 NBA Coach of the Year, also serving two stints as a Chicago Bulls assistant. Prior to moving to the NBA, the Utah State alum collected three straight Big Sky Conference championships (and three Big Sky Coach of the Year awards) as head coach at Weber State University and was inducted into the Weber State Hall of Fame in 1992. He was honored as Utah State’s alumnus of the year in 1997 and will be inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
“Phil Johnson is the ultimate coach. He not only knows the game, but also always had a great eye for talent,” said former NBA Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, Frank Layden. “He always had special motivational skills and was able to reach out to players and win their confidence. Phil was not only smart, but he also had a great work ethic. Most of all, in our relationship we were not only professional colleagues, but were and remain extremely close friends. Phil had the greatest asset an assistant coach can have, which is loyalty. He is a man of great character and this award is well deserved. Congratulations Phil Johnson.”
The National Basketball Coaches Association Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award is selected annually by the Award Selection Committee. This Committee is comprised of some of the most respected coaches and basketball executives in the game, including Rick Adelman, Hubie Brown, Doug Collins, Wayne Embry, Danny Ferry, Mike Fratello, George Karl, Doc Rivers, Rod Thorn, and Lenny Wilkens.
“Throughout his NBA coaching career, Phil Johnson epitomized everything that a world class assistant coach brings to the game,” said Dallas Mavericks head coach and National Basketball Association president Rick Carlisle. “Teacher, motivator, competitor, confidant, are all skills that come to mind when thinking of Coach Phil Johnson and his impressive legacy. Phil worked side by side with such NBA coaching greats as Dick Motta, Frank Layden, and for 23 years with Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz. I can think of no more fitting recipient for the inaugural Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award.”
In addition to Johnson, this year’s nominees included Ron Adams, Jim Boylan, Hank Egan, Jim Eyen, Tim Grgurich, Frank Hamblen, Dick Helm, Brian Hill, Jim Lynam, Bob McAdoo, Ron Rothstein, Brendan Suhr and Bob Weiss.