Best professional sports coach (2000)

Ken Hitchcock, Dallas Stars

Really, what other choice is there? We love Don Nelson, but more for his don't-give-a damn attitude and freaky X-and-O decisions (Shawn Bradley covering Muggsy Bogues) than his "coaching." He's a fun coach, but he isn't much of a professional. Ken Hitchcock, however, exemplifies both words. He's a pro: He handles the media, impressionable rookies, and irritable star players in perfect fashion. He'll laugh and joke and aw-shucks reporters, and he'll be a hard-ass jerk in the locker room when need be. Even if you don't agree with his style, you can't argue with his results. Yeah, he never played in the Bigs, blah blah blah, but he has taken two very different teams to the Stanley Cup Finals the past two years. His teams never give up, play best in close games, and almost never get out-coached. His constant line-juggling can make players tense, but he also sends a clear, important message: On a Ken Hitchcock-coached team, it's your play, not your name, that determines how much ice time you see.


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