Jeff Bzdelik

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Jeff Bzdelik
Jeff Bzdelik 2013.jpg
Bzdelik in 2013.
Houston Rockets
Position Lead Assistant coach
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1952-12-01) December 1, 1952 (age 64)
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Nationality American
Career information
College UIC (1975–1977)
Coaching career 1978–present
Career history
As coach:
1978–1980 Davidson (asst.)
1980–1986 Northwestern (asst.)
1986–1988 UMBC
19881994 Washington Bullets (asst.)
1994–1995 New York Knicks (scout)
19952001 Miami Heat (asst.)
2001–2002 Denver Nuggets (scout)
20022004 Denver Nuggets
2005–2007 Air Force
2007–2010 Colorado
2010–2014 Wake Forest
20142016 Memphis Grizzlies (assistant)
2016–present Houston Rockets (assistant)

Jeffrey Joseph Bzdelik (born December 1, 1952) is an American basketball coach who is associate head coach of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was head coach of the Denver Nuggets in the NBA for slightly over two seasons, from 2002 until he was fired near the end of 2004.

Early life[edit]

Bzdelik earned four varsity letters while playing basketball at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and was named team MVP in ’75-76. He also spent six years in the Army National Guard.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

Early career in college basketball[edit]

Bzdelik began his coaching career in 1978 as an assistant at Davidson College in North Carolina.[2] He moved to Northwestern University in 1980, where he spent six seasons as an assistant, helping the Wildcats to their first NIT appearance in school history. He then took the head coaching position at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County for two years.

Move to NBA as assistant[edit]

Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld hired Bzdelik as an assistant in 1988. He stayed there until Unseld resigned in 1994. He then took a scouting position with Pat Riley and the New York Knicks before moving with Riley to the Miami Heat the next season as an assistant coach and advance scout. In 1997, Sports Illustrated named Bzdelik the NBA's best advance scout. In 2000, USA Today named him one of the NBA's top five assistants.[3]

Denver Nuggets[edit]

Bzdelik was hired in 2001 by the Denver Nuggets to be their East Coast scout. He was promoted to assistant coach in July 2002 and impressed team management by going 6-0 in the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league and motivating the team's young players.[2] He was named the head coach of the Nuggets on August 21, 2002.[3] The team struggled in his first year, winning just 17 games. They bounced back in his second season to finish with 43 wins, reaching the postseason for the first time since 1995 before losing in the first round to eventual Western Conference finalist Minnesota. The Nuggets improved their win total by 26 games – the most ever by a team that won less than 20 games the year before and at the time the sixth-best single-season improvement in NBA history.[4] His club also became the first in the history of the NBA to go from less than 20 wins to the playoffs the next year (since going to an 82-game schedule in 1976).[5]

The team had high expectations in his third year after signing Kenyon Martin as a free agent. The Nuggets, though, struggled out of the gate to a 13 - 15 start and Bzdelik was fired on Dec. 28. Martin was one player who spoke up for Bzdelik. "That's the messed up thing. He's not out there playing," Martin said. "He's the head coach and he's got to take the blame. I'm sure if they could fire us, they probably would."[6]

Air Force Academy[edit]

On May 18, 2005, Bzedlik signed a multiyear contract to become the head coach at the US Air Force Academy.[7] The team made a first round NCAA tournament appearance – just the fourth in school history – his first year after finishing with the best record (24-7) in the program's 50-year history.[8] The Falcons have not appeared in the NCAA tournament since. The next year, they surpassed the record from the previous year by winning 26 games and made it to the NIT semifinals.


Bzdelik left Air Force on April 4, 2007, to become the head basketball coach for the Colorado Buffaloes for three seasons.[8][9] In his third and final season at CU, Bzdelik's team finished the regular season with four wins in its last six games. A first-round loss to Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament ended the Buff's season and left the team just shy of a winning campaign with a 15-16 record.

Wake Forest University[edit]

On April 13, 2010, Bzdelik left Colorado to become the 21st head men's basketball coach at Wake Forest University, inheriting a successful team that was 21-12 the previous season, and had made back to back NCAA Tournament appearances.[9] He resigned from Wake Forest in March 2014.[10] His records at Wake Forest were 8-24 (2010–11), 13-18 (2011–12), 13-18 (2012–13) and 17-16 (in his final season in 2013–14).[11]

Memphis Grizzlies[edit]

On July 31, 2014, Bzdelik was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies to be an assistant coach.[12] The Grizzlies completed the regular season 55-27, tied for the fifth-best record in the entire NBA. During his 18 years in the NBA, Bzdelik served as a head or assistant coach for 11 teams that advanced to the playoffs.[13][14][15] [16][17]

Houston Rockets[edit]

On June 1, 2016, Bzdelik became an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets.[18]

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
Denver 2002–03 82 17 65 .207 7th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Denver 2003–04 82 43 39 .524 6th in Midwest 5 1 4 .200 Lost in First Round
Denver 2004–05 28 13 15 .464 (fired) (fired)
Career 192 73 119 .380 5 1 4 .200


Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UMBC Retrievers (NCAA Division I Independent) (1986–1988)
1986–87 UMBC 12–16
1987–88 UMBC 13–15
UMBC: 25–31
Air Force Falcons (Mountain West Conference) (2005–2007)
2005–06 Air Force 24–7 12–4 2nd NCAA First Round
2006–07 Air Force 26–9 10–6 T–3rd NIT Semifinal
Air Force: 50–16 22–10
Colorado Buffaloes (Big 12 Conference) (2007–2010)
2007–08 Colorado 12–20 3–13 12th
2008–09 Colorado 9–22 1–15 12th
2009–10 Colorado 15–16 6–10 8th
Colorado: 36–58 10–38
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2010–2014)
2010–11 Wake Forest 8–24 1–15 12th
2011–12 Wake Forest 13–18 4–12 T-9th
2012–13 Wake Forest 13–18 6–12 T-9th
2013–14 Wake Forest 17-16 6-12 T-13th '
Wake Forest: 51-76 17-51
Total: 160–179

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


External links[edit]