Brian Goorjian

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Brian Goorjian
Personal information
Born (1953-07-28) 28 July 1953 (age 63)
Glendale, California
Nationality American and Armenian
Career information
High school Crescenta Valley
(La Crescenta, California)
College Pepperdine (1973–1976)
Playing career 1977–1985
Position Guard
Coaching career 1988–present
Career history
As player:
1977–1985 Melbourne Tigers
As coach:
1988–1991 Eastside Spectres
1992–1998 SE Melbourne Magic
1998–2002 Victoria Titans
2002–2008 Sydney Kings
2008–2009 South Dragons
2009–2015 Dongguan Leopards
Career highlights and awards

Brian Goorjian (born (1953-07-28)28 July 1953) is an American basketball coach. He is the most successful coach in Australian basketball history. In an NBL coaching career spanning over 20 years since his debut with the Eastside Spectres in 1988 Goorjian has won six championships: two with the South East Melbourne Magic, three with the Sydney Kings and one with the South Dragons. With a win ratio of over 70% Goorjian heads Lindsay Gaze as the most winning coach in NBL history and became the second man after Gaze to coach 600 games. Goorjian was also coach the Australian national team, the Boomers, from 2001 to 2008. Goorjian traveled to China after he finished his commitment with the Boomers in 2009. He became the Coach in General of Dongguan Leopards, a growing team in CBA. He led the Leopards Youth Team to win Championship of the Chinese National Youth League in July, 2009, who only ranked in the 9th position in 2008. With a great success, Goorjian is expected to be promoted as the head coach for the senior team in the 2010–2011 CBA Season.

Life and early career[edit]

Brian Goorjian was born in Glendale, California. He has at least partial Armenian ethnicity. Goorjian first arrived in Australia in 1977 and played for Port Melbourne Baseball club under coach Frank Thier, he later went on to play Basketball for the Melbourne Tigers under Lindsay Gaze.[1] In 1984 he captained the Melbourne Tigers in their first National Basketball League season. Goorjian's coaching career began in 1985 as assistant coach with the Geelong Supercats.

Senior 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 (amazingly, these two seasons would be the only time a Goorjian-coached team did not qualify for the play-offs).[2] In 1990, the Spectres bowed out in the semi-finals and the next year they went one better by making the Grand Final. They lost this final, however, and in the off-season the team merged with the Southern Melbourne Saints to form the South East Melbourne Magic.

South East Melbourne Magic 1992–1998[edit]

Success at the Magic came instantly, as Goorjian won the first of his six championships, and the first of his six Lindsay Gaze Coach of the Year awards, in 1992. Three consecutive semi-final losses were followed by a second championship, and another Coach of the Year award, in 1996. Two Grand Final losses were to follow, however, and Goorjian had another change of team by merger, this time due to the South East Melbourne Magic merging with the North Melbourne Giants to form the Victoria Titans.

Victoria Titans 1998–2002[edit]

Amazingly, the agony was to continue for Goorjian as his two Grand Final losses at the Magic were followed by two more Grand Final losses at the Titans, making a total of four consecutive Grand Final defeats for Goorjian. Aside from being the only coach in Australian history to lose four consecutive grand finals, he was unable to add to his trophy cabinet at the Titans as two semi-final eliminations followed. At the end of the 2002 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.

Sydney Kings 2002 - 2008[edit]

The Sydney Kings capitalised on the Titans' controversial decision to part ways with Goorjian after the 2002 season, and he moved north to replace the San Antonio Spurs-bound Brett Brown. What followed was a period of success unrivalled in Sydney's history. Three titles came in the space of four seasons as the Kings swept all before them. Goorjian, who had brought his captain Jason Smith with him from the Titans, 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 Lindsay Gaze Coach of the Year award (an Australian record) as the Kings went 27-3 during the 2007-08 regular season.[3] However, they were unable to turn this success into a fourth championship, going down narrowly to the Melbourne Tigers.

South Dragons 2008[edit]

On April 1, 2008, Goorjian signed a three-year contract with Melbourne club South Dragons,[4] and signed Mark Worthington from his Sydney Kings squad to join him at the Dragons.[5] Goorjian led the Dragons to the 2008/09 NBL title (the club's inaugural championship) in his first season with them. Unfortunately, the South Dragons folded at the end of the season despite their title win, prompting Goorjian to seek a position overseas. He won his sixth Coach of the Year award with the Dragons in 2009.

Australian national team[edit]

Goorjian has coached the Boomers from 2001 to 2008 and was the first foreign born coach to hold this position. Under his tutelage, the Boomers qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics, where they finished ninth, dropping five places from their 2000 finish. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the boomers improved their ranking to finish 7th.

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.

Guangdong Tigers 2015-Present[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.

Reputation & Achievements[edit]

Having won over 400 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).[6] 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 have finished no worse than the semi-finals every year since 1990. He has also coached teams to a record 12 grand finals and won 'Coach of the Year' on six occasions.

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.[7] He said he sat down for his first six games in 1988, which he lost, and has stood during games ever since.[8]

  • NBL Championships: (6) 1992, 1996, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2008–09
  • Play-off appearances: (19 consecutive) 1990–present
  • Grand Final Appearances: (13) 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2008–09
  • Coach Of The Year: (6) 1992, 1997, 1998, 2001–02, 2007–08, 2008–09

Other Milestones:

  • Most NBL games coached[9]

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


External links[edit]