POLL QUESTION – JUNE 14

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

It’s Sunday evening in the big city and that can only mean one thing.  It’s time for the Its Sports Magazine/Knights Sports Productions weekly poll question.

This week’s choice will be the first installment of a four-part question.  The initial query is as follows:

WHO IS THE GREATEST LIVING PROFESSIONAL COACH CURRENTLY COACHING OR RETIRED?

To say that our 13 contributors have a diverse opinion on his topic is an understatement.  Check them out and tell us what you think.  Enjoy.

BARRY JENKINS – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Bill Belichick

JEFFREY NEIL FOX – PUBLISHER OF ITS SPORTS MAGAZINE
Andy Reid – Head Coach – Kansas City Chiefs.
He prepares his teams to win.
MIKE GORMAN – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
My vote goes to Gregg Popovich.  Certainly you have to consider Belichick and Sabin, but they are too unlikable.  Popovich has been grounded, balanced, brought the best out of the material he had, and won.  If you really delved into it, there are several Division III coaches who should be on the list, such as Herb McGee out of Textile (now Philadelphia University); John Gagliardi at St. Johns, and my favorite, Bill Manlove, currently at Del Val but was my coach at Widener (23 years), then went to Del Val as head coach, then to LaSalle for their football revival, and now is an assistant (at 87 years old) back at Del Val.  
I’ll save the college coaches for a later poll question which, I have a sneaking suspicion, is coming up soon than later but that’s just one man’s opinion.
RICK MOORE – NFC WEST CORRESPONDENT
Phil Jackson
JOHN LENTZ-NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
Bill Belichick
KAZ RIVARD- NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
My opinions to this question are based off the fact I’m a 90’s baby, and the two candidates I selected are a reflection of that.

It hurts me to say it, but I have to side with Bill Belichick on this one. 9 Super Bowl appearances, executing on 6 of them. Pretty hard to argue those stats and accomplishments.

Flip to the NBA, and after watching “The Last Dance” I just can’t look past Phil Jackson (Recent bias from watching the show). 11 rings as a coach over two franchises. Yes, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant played a HUGE part in that success, without question. However, he was able to keep his teams winning the big games and focused on the goal of championship caliber play.

I have to side with Belichick a little more simply because Phil had MJ in Chicago, and Kobe in LA. Not an easy task to coach such star power, but I personally feel it made his life a bit easier. One could argue Belichick had Brady, but I still say he pulls out as the greatest living coach.

GABRIEL DIBIASE – NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
Phil Jackson

JASON RUBIN – AFC EAST CORRESPONDENT
I had a very tough time deciding on this one. Many things to consider when it comes to coaching. There’s leadership, game planning, talent evaluating, game/clock management, and others far to numerous to list at this time.  But the question asked was in regards to professional sports, which is a bottom line business. WINS! Who wins the most. Therefore it came down to 2 head  coaches to choose between… Hue Jackson and Bill Belichick. After Jackson’s 3-36-1 record through 40 games with the Browns, I’m gonna go with Bill Belichick and his 8 Super Bowl rings.  Tough choice, right?

LARRY DIBIASE – NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
Would probably have to say it would be Phil Jackson.  He coached  2 different teams and won 11 NBA titles..not too shabby!

Now..he had “great” players on each of those teams..BUT his greatest coaching ability was to mesh all those talented guys into reaching one goal..as there was, and still is, ONLY ONE BALL!

MIKE SIMZAK – AFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
Sir Alex Ferguson: Aberdeen/ Manchester United.

From 1978-1986 with Aberdeen, Ferguson won 3 League Titles, 4 Scottish Cups, the Scottish League Cup, and the European Cup Winners Cup in 7 seasons breaking up the traditional Old Firm duopoly. His back to back titles is 83-84 and 84-85 were the last two Scottish League titles won by a team other than Celtic or Rangers. That run alone would make him one of the best managers in Scottish Football but it was his time at Manchester United from 1986-2013 that makes him one of the greatest coaches of any sport and arguably the best living coach. He took over a legendary club that had not one the first division in the last 20 years and turned them into an international brand. During his 26 years at United, Ferguson won 13 Premier League Titles, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 2 UEFA Champions Leagues, and the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup. In 1998-1999, he guided Manchester United to the first Treble in English football, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions league in the same season, for which he was knighted. His 38 titles, including 7 European trophies, make him the most decorated manager in world football. Finally, during his time at United, he coached greats Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Wayne Rooney, Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel, David DeGea, Edwin Van Der Saar, and current Manchester United Manager Ole Gunnar Solkjaer. His 2013 book, Leading, was an international best seller.

WILL SMITH – AFC EAST CORRSPONDENT
Greatest living professional coach can go a lot of different directions but I think I may spin it a little differently.  First I was going to say Freddie Roach, don’t know how many of you were thinking about boxing, but he is arguably the best living boxing coach.  And I’m sure a few will pick Bill Belicheck or Phil Jackson, which no doubt are at the top of the list.  So this is where I head down a different road, put me down for Joe Gibbs.  Three Time Super bowl winner in 12 seasons as Head Coach and 5 NASCAR Cup Titles as Owner. Not exactly sure a NASCAR owner qualifies but anytime your in the HOF of two completely different professional sports, I will give you the benefit of the doubt.  Gibbs is my call.
DAVID ALEXANDER – AFC WEST CORRESPONDENT
Interesting question:  A number of choices who are already retired.  Scotty Bowman has to be high on the list.  He is responsible for a number of teams winning Stanley Cup championships.  I’m somewhat late to soccer knowledge, but I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson will make someone’s list.  Of those still active, Belichick is certainly one to be considered.

LEO HAGGERTY – EDITOR OF ITS SPORTS MAGAZINE
This, in my humble opinion, is a no-brainer.  Scotty Bowman is the obvious answer and here’s why.  Bowman has won 9, and you’re reading that correctly, Stanley Cups for three different organizations.  Five with Montreal, with four of them being in succession from 1976 through 1979, and one with Pittsburgh plus three with Detroit.  In the league that has the toughest, by far, road to the championship in that you have to win 16 games and could possibly have to play 28, the Hall of Famer has navigated that minefield successful nine times.  Throw in another five as an executive and, if you do the math as I always suggest, that’s 14 rings.  Top that off with the fact that his teams had a chance to win Lord Stanley’s Cup on five other occasions.  Finally, in case you’re not convinced, the 86-year old native of Canada has the record for most regular season wins at 1,248 along with the most playoff triumphs with 223 triumphs.  I rest my case.