Brian Goorjian

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Brian Goorjian
Personal information
Born (1953-07-28) 28 July 1953 (age 63)
Glendale, California
Nationality American
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. 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, in 22 seasons these two would be the only times a Goorjian-coached team did not qualify for the play-offs and play at least Semi-finals).[2] 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 in the clubs history (they had lost the 1981 Grand Final (as the Nunawading Spectres) to the Launceston Casino City Tigers). They lost this final to the defending champion Perth Wildcats, however in the off-season the team merged with the Southern Melbourne Saints to form the South East Melbourne Magic with Goorjian named as the new Magic coach.

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. The 1992 Grand Final series against the Lindsay Gaze coached Melbourne Tigers saw the Magic emerge with a 2–1 series win. 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 in a series where all three games were played at the league's then largest venue, the 15,300 capacity National Tennis Centre which was home to both clubs, and drew the still standing (as of 2016–17) record aggregate Grand Final attendance of 43,605 (average 14,535) fans. Two Grand Final losses were to follow in 1997 (Tigers) and in 1998 to the Adelaide 36ers who had a rookie coach in Australian basketball legend Phil Smyth, and who surprisingly to that point had only ever recorded one win over the Magic since 1992.

The 1998 Magic team was hailed as one of the NBL's best ever teams after going 26–4 through the regular season and easily sweeping the Brisbane Bullets in their Semi-final series, but were swept 2–0 by the 36ers in a stunning capitulation. The 1998 Magic team was loaded with talent, including Australian Boomers players John Dorge, Brett Wheeler, Tony Ronaldson and Sam Mackinnon as well as captain Jason Smith, Frank Drmic and the NBL's 1998 Best Defensive Player Award winner Mike Kelly. The Magic lost Game 1 100–93 in Adelaide before being mauled 90–62 in Game 2 at the Tennis Centre. While the Magic under Goorjian were seen as the best team in the NBL at the time, it must be said that the 36ers were also a very talented team, boasting former NBL MVP and Grand Final MVP Mark Davis, former Perth championship forward Martin Cattalini, North Melbourne Giants 1994 Grand Final MVP Paul Rees, former Denver Nuggets NBA players Darnell Mee and Kevin Brooks, team captain and Aussie Boomers point guard Brett Maher as well as two time NBL championship winner (ironically winning one each with both the 36ers (1986) and Magic (1992)) Scott Ninnis.[3]

Following the loss to the 36ers, Goorjian had another change of team by merger, this time due to the Magic merging with cross-town rivals 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. The Titans lost 2–1 to defending champions Adelaide in 1998–99 (the first NBL summer season after the league decided that it did not want to compete for fan support against the various winter football codes), before being swept 2–0 by the Perth Wildcats in 1999–2000. 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 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 who by this time was regarded as not only the best basketball coach in Australia but the southern hemisphere.

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, becoming the first NBL team to win 3 consecutive championships in 2002–03, 2003–04 and 2004–05 before finishing as beaten Grand Finalists in 2005–06 and 2007–08. 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 Coach of the Year award (an Australian record) as the Kings went 27-3 during the 2007-08 regular season.[4] 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 new Melbourne club South Dragons,[5] and signed Mark Worthington from his Sydney Kings squad to join him at the Dragons.[6] Goorjian led the Dragons to the 2008–09 NBL title (the club's inaugural and as it turned out, only NBL 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]

After Phil Smyth's less than one-year term as the Australian Boomers coach in 2001 which resulted in the teams 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.

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 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).[7] 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.

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.[8] He said he sat down for his first six games in 1988, which he lost, and has stood during games ever since.[9]

  • 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[10]

On October 10, 2013, Goorjian was named the coach of the Sydney Kings 25th Anniversary Team.[11]

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
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
Career 619 445 174 .719 115 69 46 .600


  1. ^ Brian Goorjian
  2. ^ Why Goorjian is king of the court The Age, March 19, 2005
  3. ^ Adelaide 36ers 1998 Champions - The Finals
  4. ^ Goorj named NBL's best Archived March 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Goorj completes Dragons move April 1, 2008
  6. ^ Smith vows to breathe new life By Grantley Bernard April 16, 2008
  7. ^ "BRIAN GOORJIAN Australia's most successful ever Coach". Archived from the original on 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2013-10-01. 
  8. ^ That winning feeling for long time coach Brian Goorjian
  9. ^ The Life of Brian Goorjian Archived March 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. The Canberra Times, September 2006
  10. ^ Thousand games beckons Goorjian FOX Sports News, January 24, 2007
  11. ^ MightyMite Sydney Kings announce 25th Anniversary Team

External links[edit]