Brian Goorjian

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Brian Goorjian
Brian Goorjian.jpg
Goorjian as head coach of the Sydney Kings in 2005
Bay Area Dragons
PositionHead coach
Personal information
Born (1953-07-28) 28 July 1953 (age 69)
Glendale, California
NationalityAmerican / Australian
Listed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Career information
High schoolCrescenta Valley
(La Crescenta, California)
CollegePepperdine (1973–1976)
NBA draft1976 / Undrafted
Playing career1977–1985
Coaching career1988–present
Career history
As player:
1977–1985Melbourne Tigers
As coach:
1988–1991Eastside Spectres
1992–1998South East Melbourne Magic
1998–2002Victoria Titans
2002–2008Sydney Kings
2008–2009South Dragons
2009–2015Dongguan Leopards
2015–2016Guangdong Southern Tigers (assistant)
2018–2019Xinjiang Flying Tigers (assistant)
2020–2022Illawarra Hawks
2022–presentBay Area Dragons
Career highlights and awards
As coach:

Brian Warwick Goorjian (born 28 July 1953) is an American-Australian professional basketball coach and former player served as the head coach of the Bay Area Dragons of the East Asia Super League (EASL). He is also currently the head coach of the Australia men's national basketball team. He is the most successful coach in Australian basketball and his career has been called the most successful in NBL history by Basketball Australia.[1] In an NBL coaching career spanning over 20 years, Goorjian has won six championships: two with the South East Melbourne Magic, three with the Sydney Kings and one with the South Dragons. He previously served as the head coach of the Australia men's team from 2001 to 2008 before returning as coach in 2020.

In 2009, Goorjian became the head coach of the Dongguan Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and stayed with the team for six seasons. He served as an assistant coach for the Guangdong Southern Tigers from 2015 to 2016 and as a special advisor to the Shanghai Sharks from 2016 to 2018. Goorjian returned to coaching duties when he joined the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in 2018 as an assistant coach for one season. After spending a decade in the CBA, he returned to the NBL in 2020 as the head coach of the Illawarra Hawks.

Early career[edit]

Goorjian was born in Glendale, California, and is of Armenian descent.[2] He played on the basketball team at Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta, California, and was coached by his father, Ed.[2] Goorjian's younger brothers, Kevin and Greg, also played basketball at Crescenta Valley.[2] He played college basketball for the Pepperdine Waves.[2]

Goorjian first arrived in Australia in 1977 to play for the Melbourne Tigers under head coach Lindsay Gaze.[3] He served as the inaugural captain of the Tigers in their first National Basketball League (NBL) season in 1984.[4]

Coaching career[edit]

Eastside Spectres (1988–1991)[edit]

Goorjian's first head coaching job came in 1988 when he coached the Eastside Melbourne Spectres. The team missed the finals in Goorjian's first two seasons.[5] In 1990, the Spectres bowed out in the semi-finals and the next year they went one better by making the Grand Final for only the second time in the club's history. They lost this final to the defending champion Perth Wildcats. The Spectres merged with the Southern Melbourne Saints during the 1992 offseason to form the South East Melbourne Magic with Goorjian named as the new Magic coach.[citation needed]

South East Melbourne Magic (1992–1998)[edit]

Goorjian won the first of his six championships in 1992 against the Melbourne Tigers and was named the Lindsay Gaze Coach of the Year. Three consecutive semi-final losses were followed by a second championship and another Coach of the Year award in 1996 when they again defeated the Tigers. Two Grand Final losses were to follow to the Tigers in 1997 and the Adelaide 36ers in 1998.[citation needed]

Following the loss to the 36ers, Goorjian had another change of team by merger when the Magic merged with cross-town rivals the North Melbourne Giants to form the Victoria Titans.[citation needed]

Victoria Titans (1998–2002)[edit]

Goorjian lost another two Grand Finals in his first two seasons as coach for the Titans. The Titans lost 2–1 to defending champions Adelaide in 1998–99 before being swept 2–0 by the Perth Wildcats in 1999–2000. At the end of the 2001–02 season, the financially struggling Victoria Titans went into administration and were sold to new owners associated with the former North Melbourne Giants, who controversially fired Goorjian.[citation needed]

Sydney Kings (2002–2008)[edit]

The Sydney Kings hired Goorjian after the 2001–02 season to replace Brett Brown. Goorjian led the Kings to three consecutive NBL championships from 2003 to 2005. Goorjian coached Sydney to five Grand Final series in six years, despite being forced to constantly re-build the team after each season. He won his fifth NBL Coach of the Year award as the Kings went 27–3 during the 2007–08 regular season.[6] However, they were unable to turn this success into a fourth championship, going down narrowly to the Melbourne Tigers.

South Dragons (2008–2009)[edit]

On April 1, 2008, Goorjian signed a three-year contract with new Melbourne club South Dragons.[7] Goorjian led the Dragons to the 2008–09 NBL title in his first season with them. He won his sixth Coach of the Year award with the Dragons in 2009. The Dragons folded at the end of the season despite their title win, prompting Goorjian to seek a position overseas.[citation needed]

Dongguan Leopards (2009–2015)[edit]

Brian Goorjian was the head coach of the Dongguan Leopards. After the 2014–2015 CBA Season ended, Goorjian left the Leopards.[citation needed]

Guangdong Tigers (2015–2016)[edit]

Goorjian stepped away from head coaching duties, and became associate coach of the Guangdong Southern Tigers in early 2015, responsible for player development, talent identification, scouting and game analysis.[citation needed]

Shanghai Sharks (2016–2018)[edit]

After the CBA season has finished, Goorjian became Special Advisor of the Shanghai Sharks in early 2016, responsible for player development, talent identification, scouting and game analysis. Following the 2017–2018 season he left the club.[citation needed]

Xinjiang Flying Tigers (2018–2019)[edit]

After leaving the Sharks, Goorijan moved to the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in 2018 as an assistant coach, and remained there for one season.[citation needed]

Illawarra Hawks (2020–2022)[edit]

On June 23, 2020, returned to Australia and signed with Illawarra Hawks of the NBL as their new head coach.[8] He elected to not take up his third-year option with the Hawks in May 2022, instead moving to the role of special advisor for basketball operations.[9]

National team career[edit]

After Phil Smyth's less than one-year term as the Australian Boomers coach in 2001 which resulted in the team's shock non-qualification for the 2002 World Championships, Goorjian was appointed as coach in late 2001 when Smyth resigned and would hold the position until 2008. By becoming the Boomers coach, Goorjian was the first foreign born coach to the team in its history. Under his tutelage, the Boomers qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics, where they finished ninth, dropping five places from their 2000 finish. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the boomers improved their ranking to finish 7th.[citation needed]

In November 2020, Goorjian returned as head coach for the Australian men's national basketball team for the 2020 Summer Olympics where the team won the bronze medal and Australia's first ever medal in Olympic men's basketball.[10]

Coaching profile[edit]

Having won 511 games at a winning percentage of 70% Goorjian's record exceeds that of Australian coaching legends in the other major professional leagues including Kevin Sheedy (AFL – 365), Allan Jeans (AFL – 358), Tom Hafey (AFL – 336), David Parkin (AFL – 306), Wayne Bennett (NRL – 294 wins) and Tim Sheens (NRL – 235).[11] In 2003 the NBL Hall of Fame selection committee voted Brian Goorjian the best coach of the first 25 years of the National Basketball League. In one of the notable statistics in sport, Goorjian-coached teams finished no worse than the semi-finals every year from 1990–2009. He has also coached teams to a record 12 grand finals and won 'Coach of the Year' on six occasions.[citation needed]

Goorjian is also known for his intense coaching style (contrasting the laid back style of his early mentor Lindsay Gaze). His former assistant coach Bill Tomlinson says the detail he paid to defence was notable, as was the emphasis on strength and conditioning which often made Goorjian coached teams the fittest in the league.[12] He said he sat down for his first six games in 1988, which he lost, and has stood during games ever since.[13]

On October 10, 2013, Goorjian was named the coach of the Sydney Kings 25th Anniversary Team.[14]

Coaching record[edit]


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs 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
Eastside Melbourne Spectres 1988 24 11 13 .458 8th Missed playoffs
Eastside Spectres 1989 24 14 10 .583 7th Missed playoffs
Eastside Melbourne Spectres 1990 26 18 8 .692 2nd 2 0 2 .000 Semi-finalists
Eastside Melbourne Spectres 1991 26 17 9 .654 2nd 5 3 2 .600 Grand Finalists
South East Melbourne Magic 1992 24 20 4 .833 1st 7 6 1 .857 Champions
South East Melbourne Magic 1993 26 20 6 .769 2nd 4 2 2 .500 Semi-finalists
South East Melbourne Magic 1994 26 19 7 .731 3rd 3 1 2 .333 Semi-finalists
South East Melbourne Magic 1995 26 18 8 .692 3rd 6 3 3 .500 Semi-finalists
South East Melbourne Magic 1996 26 19 7 .731 1st 7 6 1 .857 Champions
South East Melbourne Magic 1997 30 22 8 .733 1st 5 3 2 .600 Grand Finalists
South East Melbourne Magic 1998 30 26 4 .867 1st 4 2 2 .500 Grand Finalists
Victoria Titans 1998–99 26 17 9 .654 2nd 7 4 3 .571 Grand Finalists
Victoria Titans 1999–2000 28 20 8 .714 4th 8 4 4 .500 Grand Finalists
Victoria Titans 2000–01 28 21 7 .750 4th 6 3 3 .500 Semi-finalists
Victoria Titans 2001–02 30 20 10 .667 1st 6 3 3 .500 Semi-finalists
Sydney Kings 2002–03 30 22 8 .733 1st 8 6 2 .750 Champions
Sydney Kings 2003–04 35 27 8 .771 1st 5 4 1 .667 Champions
Sydney Kings 2004–05 29 20 9 .690 1st 8 6 2 .750 Champions
Sydney Kings 2005–06 32 25 7 .781 2nd 5 3 2 .600 Grand Finalists
Sydney Kings 2006–07 33 20 13 .606 4th 3 1 2 .333 Semi-finalists
Sydney Kings 2007–08 30 27 3 .900 1st 8 4 4 .500 Grand Finalists
South Dragons 2008–09 30 22 8 .733 1st 8 5 3 .625 Champions
Illawarra Hawks 2020–21 36 20 16 .556 3rd 3 1 2 .333 Semi-finalists
Illawarra Hawks 2021–22 28 18 9 .667 2nd 2 0 2 .000 Semi-finalists
Career 683 484 199 .709 120 70 50 .583

Personal life[edit]

Goorjian is an Australian citizen.[2] He has a daughter with his wife, Amanda.[2]


  1. ^ "Brian Goorjian". Basketball Australia. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Spreading the Goorjian seed". Glendale News-Press. August 29, 2002. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  3. ^ Brian Goorjian Archived 2009-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Nagy, Boti. "A rivalry renewed? Hmm, not really". Boti Nagy. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  5. ^ Why Goorjian is king of the court The Age, March 19, 2005
  6. ^ Goorj named NBL's best Archived March 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Goorj completes Dragons move April 1, 2008
  8. ^ "Hawks sign master coach Brian Goorjian after tumultuous start to year". 23 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Jackomas takes over Hawks reigns from mentor Goorjian". 4 May 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  10. ^ "Brian Goorjian appointed Australian Boomers head coach". Basketball Australia. 13 November 2020. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  11. ^ "BRIAN GOORJIAN Australia's most successful ever Coach". Archived from the original on 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2013-10-01.
  12. ^ That winning feeling for long time coach Brian Goorjian
  13. ^ The Life of Brian Goorjian Archived March 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The Canberra Times, September 2006
  14. ^ MightyMite Sydney Kings announce 25th Anniversary Team Archived 2013-10-13 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]