NBA

Lakers Assistant Coach Phil Handy’s Remarkable Journey to 6 Straight NBA Finals

LA Lakers coach Phil Handy has been a coach in the NBA since 2011. He started his coaching career with the Lakers, and now he’s back with them. Other than the Lakers, Handy has spent time with two other teams during his career.

With the Lakers making the NBA Finals this year, Handy has now made six consecutive trips to the finals as a coach.

Phil Handy played professionally before becoming a coach

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Though Handy never played in the NBA, he did spend some time playing professionally around the world. He spent a few years playing in the CBA, and he also spent time playing overseas. Handy won a British Basketball League championship with the Manchester Giants in 2000. His basketball career ended in 2002, and nine years later, he started coaching in the NBA.

His first coaching job was with the Lakers as a player development coach in 2011. He served under Mike Brown and was with the Lakers from 2011 to 2013. When Brown left the Lakers and joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013, he brought Handy with him. Handy served as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers and was a part of four consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018. He was a part of the Cavaliers’ first NBA title in franchise history when they defeated the Golden State Warriors in 2016. 

Handy had the opportunity to work alongside two of the greatest NBA players in Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. 

Phil Handy joining the Toronto Raptors and being a part of history

After Handy left Cleveland, he joined the Toronto Raptors for the 2018-19 season. Handy only spent one season in Toronto as the assistant coach, and he was a part of the team that won the first-ever championship in franchise history. After winning a championship with the Raptors, Handy got the opportunity to return to the Lakers as an assistant coach.

Handy delivered a heartfelt message on his Instagram page when he announced that he was leaving Toronto. “Honestly the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my professional career in the last 48hrs,” Handy wrote on his Instagram. “Words cannot express my gratitude to the @raptors organization, the city of #toronto #canada and some of the best fans in the world! It was hard to leave this city and team after the historical season we had. Sometimes professional sports can be unforgiving in things that happen.” “I will never forget the love that you all showed me the moment I became a #raptor.” Handy enjoyed his time in Toronto even though he wasn’t there long. To be a part of history is always special and he won’t forget his time with the Raptors.

Phil Handy appearing in his sixth consecutive finals

This is the sixth straight time that Handy has reached the finals as a coach. In an interview with The Undefeated, Handy talked about how it feels to make it to six consecutive finals. “I just pay homage to a lot of people that have coached in the NBA. There’s a lot of coaches that have coached for years and years, and they’re successful coaches. There are good coaches that have never made it to the Finals. And for me to be able to be on this route, I don’t have an answer to it sometimes,” Handy said.

Handy has the opportunity to win his third title as a coach if the Lakers can defeat the Heat. He’s reunited with James as the two were together in Cleveland. Not too many coaches make it to the NBA Finals, and Handy has made it to six straight. Handy certainly has had an impressive coaching career.