Seven coaches received at least one vote, and five are considered to be reasonably secure in their jobs—for now, at least: Cotton Fitzsimmons (Suns), Phil Jackson ( Bulls), Don Nelson ( Warriors), Lenny Wilkens (Cavaliers) and Riley. Chuck Daly (Pistons) also was named, and should he part company with Detroit after the season, he will be offered another NBA job about five minutes later. Jimmy Lynam ( 76ers) was the final nominee, and he is most definitely swimming in choppy seas.
The winner? Not surprisingly, it was Nelson, who got eight of 24 votes. "Nellie gets you playing his game," said Pacer president Donnie Walsh. "Also, his game changes. He's got fast little people this season, and they run around the floor like crazy. But in the past he just pounded you with big people." And Hawk general manager Pete Babcock expanded that praise in voting for Nelson: "He has the best combination of abilities in dealing with players, motivating, reading situations in the game. His teams historically overachieve."
The runner-up? Score one for Lynam, who received four votes. Daly, Fitzsimmons and Jackson each had three votes, Wilkens got two, and Riley, who won four titles with the Lakers, netted only one.