Del Harris

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For the English squash player, see Del Harris (squash player).
Del Harris
Personal information
Born (1937-10-13) October 13, 1937 (age 76)
Dale, Indiana
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight 185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High school Plainfield (Plainfield, Indiana)
College Milligan (1955–1959)
Position Point guard
Coaching career 1979–1999
Career history
As coach:
19791984 Houston Rockets
19871993 Milwaukee Bucks
19941999 Los Angeles Lakers
Career highlights and awards

As player:

  • 'Little All-American' (Honorable Mention)

As coach:

Delmer William "Del" Harris (born June 18, 1937) is a basketball coach, who was last the head coach of the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League. He was an assistant coach for the National Basketball Association's New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, and Dallas Mavericks. He also served as a head coach for the NBA's Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers.

High school coach[edit]

Harris is a graduate of Milligan College in northeast Tennessee, where his basketball career landed him in the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. He began his coaching career at the High School level in Tennessee but is best known for his tenure in his native Indiana; in four years in the Indiana ranks he built a record of 54-13, though some of the records are incomplete, he also won a Conference title and a Sectional title.

He coached at three different high schools in Indiana; the Roachdale Hawks, the Dale Golden Aces and the Spencer Cops; his greatest success came at Dale, as he led the Golden Aces to a 2-year record of 35-9 and a Pocket Athletic Conference title. He also coached the Dale baseball team to a PAC title and a record of 26-7. He moved to Spencer and after 1 season and an IHSAA Sectional title, he applied for and was hired at Earlham College.

College coach[edit]

Harris was coach at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana for nine seasons, building a record of 175-70 (.714), he led the Quakers to three Hoosier Collegiate Conference (HCC) titles and two Top-10 rankings. His best season was 1970-71, when the Quakers achieved a record of 25-5, won the HCC and reached the NAIA National Tournament, losing in the 2nd round. Their final ranking was #12 in the country. He remains, today, as the Earlham coaching leader in wins and winning percentage. He led the Quakers to 19 conference or tournament titles in during his tenure.[1]

Professional coach[edit]

Harris began in the professional ranks in 1975 as an assistant coach for the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association, under head coach Tom Nissalke. When that franchise folded, Nissalke and Harris were hired as head and assistant coach, respectively for the NBA's Houston Rockets. When Nissalke was let go by the club, Harris was asked to take over head coaching duties. Harris led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in the 1981 season, where they were defeated by the Boston Celtics four games to two.

Don Nelson brought Harris to Milwaukee as his assistant for the Milwaukee Bucks team, where he later became head coach and, later, also General Manager. Harris claims to have originated the term point forward. He says he first mentioned the term to Nelson while discussing strategies to use Paul Pressey. Harris says he came up with the term while coaching Robert Reid while at Houston. Harris credits Nissalke with creating the point forward strategy with Rick Barry's role in Houston.[2] However, former Bucks player Marques Johnson claims to have coined the term during a conversation with Nelson in the 1984 playoffs.[2]

After his stint with the Bucks, Harris became head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, winning NBA Coach of the Year honors in '94-'95. The Lakers fired Harris after leading them to a 6–6 start at the beginning of the lockout-shortened 1998–1999 season.

Harris was assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks from 2000 to 2007.[3]

Harris is a 1955 graduate of Plainfield High School (Indiana) in Plainfield, Indiana, a school with rich basketball tradition. He was one of the first inductees into Plainfield High School's Hall of Fame.

He has four sons (Larry, Alex, Stan and Dominic) and one daughter (Carey). All of his children played basketball at the collegiate level (Eastern New Mexico, Eastern New Mexico, University of North Texas, Dallas Baptist University, and Marquette University respectively). He is the father of former Bucks general manager Larry Harris and comedian Dominic Harris.

On July 3, 2008, the Chicago Tribune reported that Harris agreed to become an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls along with former Charlotte Bobcats head coach Bernie Bickerstaff and longtime NBA assistant Bob Ociepka. Along with Bickerstaff and Ociepka, Harris was expected to help establish a veteran presence on the coaching staff and help rookie head coach Vinny Del Negro.[4]

In June 2009, it was reported that Harris would step down as assistant coach to the Bulls, and retire after a career spanning 50 years.[5]

On November 30, 2009, it was announced that Harris would be the top assistant coach of the New Jersey Nets.

On October 3, 2011, it was announced that Harris would be the new head coach for the Dallas Mavericks' NBA Development League affiliate the Texas Legends.[6]


Harris coached seven seasons in Puerto Rico’s National Superior League (1969–75), posting a 176-61 record and winning three national championships (1973–75).

He was an assistant coach under Rudy Tomjanovich with the US national team in the 1998 FIBA World Championship, winning the bronze medal. The team was handicapped by only using college players as there was a lockout in the NBA.[7]

Harris also served as coach of the Chinese national men's team, where he coached NBA All-Star center Yao Ming and led China to a surprising upset victory over Serbia and Montenegro in the 2004 Athens Olympic basketball tournament.

Prior to becoming the Lakers' head coach Harris was also a special consultant of Canadian basketball and their then head coach Ken Shields. The team finished 5th in the 1994 World Games in Toronto.

In the fall of 2011, Harris assisted coach John Calipari with the Dominican Republic national team. They won bronze in 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Mar del Plata, Argentina (the first major basketball medal in the Dominic Republic's history).

Head coaching record[edit]

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
HOU 1979–80 82 41 41 .500 2nd in Central 7 2 5 .286 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
HOU 1980–81 82 40 42 .561 2nd in Midwest 21 12 9 .571 Lost in NBA Finals
HOU 1981–82 82 46 36 .561 2nd in Midwest 3 1 2 .333 Lost in First Round
HOU 1982–83 82 14 68 .171 6th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
MIL 1987–88 82 42 40 .512 4th in Central 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
MIL 1988–89 82 49 33 .598 4th in Central 9 3 6 .333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
MIL 1989–90 82 44 38 .537 3rd in Central 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
MIL 1990–91 82 48 34 .585 3rd in Central 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
MIL 1991–92 17 8 9 .471 (resigned)
LAL 1994–95 82 48 34 .585 3rd in Pacific 10 5 5 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
LAL 1995–96 82 53 29 .646 2nd in Pacific 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
LAL 1996–97 82 56 26 .683 2nd in Pacific 9 4 5 .444 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
LAL 1997–98 82 61 21 .744 1st in Pacific 13 7 6 .538 Lost in Conf. Finals
LAL 1998–99 12 6 6 .500 (fired)
Career 1013 556 457 .549 88 38 50 .432


Harris was inducted into the Plainfield High School (Indiana) Hall of Fame, the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame,[8] and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.[3]


  1. ^ Harris&xsearch_id=HallofFame_Last_Name&xsearch[0]=Delmar Harris&back=HallofFame
  2. ^ a b Aschburner, Steve (December 21, 2010). "LeBron a point forward? Well, he wouldn't be the first". Archived from the original on June 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Del Harris, NBA
  4. ^ K.C. Johnson (2008-07-03). "Bulls focus on own". Chicago Tribune. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Eddie Sefko (2011-10-03). "Former Mavericks assistant Del Harris to coach Texas Legends". The Dallas Morning News. 
  7. ^ 1998 USA Basketball
  8. ^

External links[edit]