Former Trail Blazers, Clippers coach Mike Schuler dies at 81

Portland Trail Blazers Mike Schuler
Brian Drake/Getty Images

Mike Schuler fell out of a chair at his introductory press conference with the Trail Blazers in 1986.

It wasn’t an omen.

Schuler won Coach of the Year in his first season as NBA head coach.

That rare honor highlighting his coaching career, Schuler has died at age 81.

The only rookie NBA head coaches to win Coach of The Year:

  • Tom Thibodeau (2011 Chicago Bulls)
  • Rick Carlisle (2002 Detroit Pistons)
  • Doc Rivers (2000 Orlando Magic)
  • Larry Bird (1998 Indiana Pacers)
  • Mike Schuler (1987 Portland Trail Blazers)
  • Red Kerr (1967 Chicago Bulls)
  • Harry Gallatin (1963 St. Louis Hawks)

Schuler coached Portland to 49-33 and 53-29 records his first two years there. But after consecutive first-round losses and a 25-22 start the following season, the Trail Blazers fired him.

He became Clippers coach a year later in the midst of their Donald Sterling era of cycling through coaches while losing. Schuler fit right in, going 52-75 then getting axed.

As recently as 2005, Schuler was a Bucks assistant on the staff of Terry Porter, who played for Schuler’s first Trail Blazers team.