John MacLeod, the winningest coach in Suns history, passed away on Sunday at the age of 81. The architect of Phoenix’s run to the 1976 NBA Finals, MacLeod coached the team from 1975 through 1987, accumulating a franchise record 579 wins along with the team’s first division and conference championships.
The Suns issued a statement in which they expressed their appreciation for “a winner in every sense.”
We will miss you, Coach MacLeod.🧡
Our statement on the passing of Ring of Honor member, John MacLeod. pic.twitter.com/jVIRh5yLpr
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 15, 2019
MacLeod’s career ran parellel with that of former No. 4 overall pick Alvan Adams, whom he coached at the University of Oklahoma. Adams was a rookie All-Star under MacLeod in 1975-76, when the Suns shocked the NBA world by defeating the defending champion Warriors in the Western Conference Finals before taking Boston to six games in the Finals. That series included one of greatest games ever played, a triple-overtime Game 5 extended by Gar Heard’s famous Shot Heard ‘Round the World.
Other All-Stars who blossomed under MacLeod include newly minted Hall-of-Famer Paul Westphal, six-time All-Star Walter Davis, and Larry Nance Sr. MacLeod also enjoyed coaching stints with the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and the University of Notre Dame.