Las Vegas, July 10, 2019—Bill Bertka, a basketball lifer and a pioneering proponent of film study, advance scouting and player development, is the 2019 Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award winner, the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) announced today.
“Bill Bertka is an NBA coaching legend and a true basketball lifer,” said Dallas Mavericks Head Coach and National Basketball Coaches Association President Rick Carlisle. “He is extremely passionate about his craft and has coached and mentored so many of our great NBA players from Wilt Chamberlain to Kobe Bryant. Congratulations to Coach Bertka on this prestigious recognition.”
“I am honored and proud to have been selected for the Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award by a committee of my coaching peers, said Coach Bill Bertka.” “I am sincerely grateful to the National Basketball Coaches Association for this recognition.”
Bertka began his NBA career in 1968 when the Los Angeles Lakers hired him to scout college players for the NBA Draft, making him the first full-time scout in league history. He and his wife, Solveig, had started a college scouting service in the mid-60s and it grew to become an industry leader before shuttering in 1991. Under Head Coach Bill Sharman, Bertka began working with players while also adding advance scouting duties.
In 1974 Bertka left the Lakers to become the first General Manager of the New Orleans Jazz. He also served as a Jazz assistant coach under Elgin Baylor.
In 1981 when Pat Riley became Head Coach, he brought Bertka back to the Lakers as his first Assistant, and Bertka has worked for the Lakers ever since, as an Assistant Coach, Director of Scouting, Special Assistant to the General Manager and Basketball Consultant. All told, 45 of his 52 years in the NBA have been with the Lakers. He has worked with 17 different Lakers Head Coaches and has coached greats from Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and beyond. He has ten NBA Championship rings and his teams made a total of 20 trips to the NBA Finals.
Prior to the NBA, Bertka was a Head Coach at three different colleges, including a four-year stint at his alma mater, Kent State.
Bertka, who will turn 92 on August 8, has been inducted into the Santa Barbara Sports Hall of Fame (1989), the Summit County (OH) Sports Hall of Fame (1989), the Kent State University Sports Hall of Fame, (2004) and the Santa Barbara Basketball Court of Champions (2014).
“Assistant Coaches often operate behind the scenes and may not receive public recognition for their team’s success. However, if you ask any Head Coach, they would say that their team could not operate without the hard work of these men and women,” said National Basketball Coaches Association Executive Director David S. Fogel. “Coach Bertka certainly exemplifies these values on and off the court, and his tireless work ethic has led to successful seasons throughout his coaching career. Congratulations to Coach Bertka, this honor is well deserved.”
The National Basketball Coaches Association Tex Winter Lifetime Achievement Award honors the tremendous achievements and commitment of Hall of Famer Tex Winter, who over an outstanding NBA coaching career set a standard of integrity, competitive excellence, loyalty and tireless promotion of NBA basketball. This year’s award recognizes the extraordinary contributions Bill Bertka has made to the sport throughout his NBA career through building a body of work that has had a positive and powerful impact on the NBA coaching profession. Coach Bertka embodies the high standards and leadership philosophies that Tex Winter brought to the game.
The National Basketball Coaches Association Tex Winter Lifetime Impact Award is selected annually by the Award Selection Committee, comprised of some of the most respected coaches and executives in the game, including Rick Adelman, Hubie Brown, Doug Collins, Wayne Embry, Danny Ferry, Mike Fratello, George Karl, Doc Rivers, Rod Thorn and Lenny Wilkens.
Prior recipients are Tim Grgurich (2018), Ron Rothstein (2017) and Phil Johnson (2016).
About the NBCA: The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) is the labor organization that represents basketball coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Founded in 1976 by legendary Boston Celtics player and coach, Tommy Heinsohn, the NBCA consists of all NBA Head Coaches, Assistant Coaches and alumni, and works closely with the NBA on all matters that pertain to the coaching profession.