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The key to being a successful NBA coach is simple, beat Lebron James

by Slam
by Slam

The list of NBA coaches to have successfully beaten Lebron James in a NBA playoff series is short, but is as follows: Flip Saunders, Gregg Popovich (twice), Doc Rivers (twice), Stan Van Gundy, Rick Carlisle, and Steve Kerr (twice).

The top coaches on the list

Of the list of NBA coaches to successfully dethrone Lebron James, there are three who should immediately stand out: Popovich, Kerr and Carlisle. We all know that Gregg Popovich will go down as one of the best NBA coaches of all time. The continued success of the Spurs under Pop have turned San Antonio into the model NBA franchise. The two times Popovich has dethroned The King were in the NBA Finals and both wins over Lebron were decisive. While Lebron has bested Popovich once with Miami, Pop easily has Lebron's number.

by Pinterest
by Pinterest

The other NBA “lifer” who stands out is Rick Carlisle. Carlisle is also one of the most respected and demanding NBA coach in the league and easily can be argued as one of the best currently in the league. Carlisle, like Popovich, bested Lebron in the NBA Finals. While the two haven't met in the Finals since the 2011-2012 season, my money would still be on Carlisle to win another showdown.

Steve Kerr is the most recent coach to beat Lebron James and he's done it twice already in his short head coaching career. Kerr is arguably one of the top coaches in the league right now, but it'd be interesting to see what he could accomplish without a team so heavily stacked in his favor.

The three outliers

by Neon Tommy
by Neon Tommy

Stan Van Gundy at one time in his career was widely considered a great coach. Van Gundy's Orlando Magic with superstar Dwight Howard were a force to be reckoned with. It's crazy to think that the Magic won their 2009 Eastern Conference Finals series vs Cleveland 4-2. After his stint in Orlando, Stan went onto Detroit and received a very lucrative and powerful position thanks in large part for his ability to beat Lebron.

Oh Doc Rivers is a hot take waiting to happen. Rivers and his Celtics were a huge reason in why Lebron went to Miami in the first place. Doc helped Boston rule over the East for a short time and kept Lebron in check for awhile. When Rivers left Boston to go West, he also received a very lucrative and powerful position on the emerging Clippers squad. I don't think Doc Rivers is a great coach and his tenure as GM for LAC was horrible, but his position was given because of his success at beating Lebron James.

Flip Saunders took his Detroit Pistons squad in the mid 2000's straight through the Cavaliers. Saunders was and still is widely considered one of the best player loved coaches and still respected by his players and opponents.

Who is next to join the list?

by Justin Emerson
by Justin Emerson

Lebron James is no invincible, contrary to popular belief and when he gets beat again, it's going to be due to a great coach who may or may not have a great roster. The one coach who stands out as the next one to join the list is Brad Stevens. What Steves has been able to do during his tenure in Boston, especially this year, is nothing short of amazing. Even with his banged up roster this year, I still expect Stevens' Celtics to push the Cavaliers hard due to how well coached the team is. Brad may not join the list this year, but next year with may hopefully be a fully healthy roster, I wouldn't put it past him.

This article was originally published on @justin9944