College - South Carolina '74
Announced as head coach of the Indiana Fever on Dec. 11, 2003, Brian Winters is in his fourth season in Indianapolis, after leading the Fever to back-to-back playoff appearances and identical 21-13 records in 2005 and 2006. Winters has guided Indiana to a 57-45 (.559) mark through three seasons, and matched the franchise record for wins in each of the last two. The Fever fell to WNBA runner-up Connecticut in the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals, and a year later made a first-round exit at the hands of eventual WNBA Champion Detroit.
Winters came to a new city and a new franchise for the 2004 season. The third head coach in Fever history – and already its winningest – Winters assumed his first coaching position in the WNBA after compiling 23 years of NBA experience as a player, assistant coach or head coach. Winters was a former head coach of the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors.
The Fever finished 15-19 in his first WNBA season, twice rising to first place in the WNBA’s Eastern Division before inconsistency and injury kept Indiana from a playoff bid during a virtual six-way tie in the final week of the season. His second season, however, was marked with a greater sense of confidence and familiarity as he and his staff engineered an aggressive, defensive-minded squad to the most wins in franchise history. A candidate for WNBA Coach of the Year, Winters and the Fever won its first playoff series with a 2-0 victory over the New York Liberty, to advance to the Eastern Finals against the Connecticut Sun.
One year later, in 2006, he and his staff duplicated the 21-13 season record, while managing the stingiest defense in the WNBA, allowing just 68.1 points per game. The Fever qualified for a second straight playoff berth with more than two weeks still left in the regular season, but bowed to the eventual champion in the first-round of the playoffs.
To his credit, Winters and his staff join the Connecticut Sun in boasting the WNBA’s only coaching staffs to remain intact since the start of the 2004 season.
“Brian brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to our franchise,” said Fever Chief Operating Officer/General Manager Kelly Krauskopf upon hiring the former NBA All-Star. “Not only was he a tremendous player, he also has coached alongside some of the most respected coaches in the game.”
She added, “As I spoke to people around the league who either knew Brian personally or worked with him, they couldn’t say enough about his integrity and character. He will represent our franchise and this city in a very positive manner.”
Winters began his coaching career as a college assistant at Princeton under legendary Pete Carril before leaving for nine pro seasons in Cleveland (1986-93) and Atlanta (1993-95) as an assistant to Lenny Wilkens, the winningest coach in NBA history.
The Queens, N.Y., native began his own head coaching resume in 1995, when he was chosen to guide the NBA’s expansion Vancouver Grizzlies. He was an assistant with the Denver Nuggets for one season before landing at Golden State as an assistant coach midway through the 1999-00 campaign, under Garry St. Jean. Two years later, he was named the Warriors’ head coach in December 2001.
As a player, Winters was a college All-American at South Carolina under Frank McGuire and associate head coach Donnie Walsh, now the CEO/President of Pacers Sports & Entertainment. A first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1974, he began his pro playing career under coach Bill Sharman before playing eight years with the Bucks under Larry Costello and Don Nelson.
Mentors Carril, McGuire, Sharman and Wilkens all are members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. They helped mold Winters into one of the greatest sharpshooters of his era.
In fact, one of the game’s greatest legends, Michael Jordan, listed Winters among the sweetest shooters of all-time. When asked to identify the best shooter he ever saw, during an August 2004 interview, Jordan tabbed Winters. Said Jordan, “He had the most beautiful stroke of all the people I can think of.”
Winters was an NBA All-Star during his first year with the Bucks – after arriving in Milwaukee for the 1976 season as one of four players exchanged with the Lakers for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After an All-Rookie season with the Lakers in 1975 and his first All-Star appearance a year later, Winters was named an All-Star again in 1978. In all, he spent eight seasons in Milwaukee, leading the Bucks to six postseason berths. One of the leading playmakers and shooters in Bucks history, he still is third in franchise history in assists (2,479), fifth in games played (582) and steals (718), and seventh in scoring (9,743). He averaged 16.7 points per game during his eight seasons in Milwaukee, and 16.2 over a nine-year career.
Upon retiring in 1983, he became then just the third (now one of seven) Bucks players to have his number retired, raising his No. 32 on Oct. 28, 1983, in a Milwaukee win over Indiana.
It is in Indiana, coincidentally, where he renews an association with one of his Fever stars. The relationship dates to his time as a Milwaukee player when he first met Tamika Catchings as an infant. Harvey, her father, was traded to the Bucks prior to the 1979-80 season. Tamika was born in July 1979, and her father played alongside Winters for four more seasons. Another renewed friendship is that with Walsh.
Winters and his wife, Julie, have three daughters and three sons: Cara (25), Brendan (24), Kevin (22), Keelin (18), Meghan (16) and Ryan (15). Cara is a 2004 graduate of Santa Clara University who currently resides near the family’s home in Denver, Colo. Winters’ oldest son, Brendan, currently plays professionally in France, after concluding a standout career at Davidson University where he was the 2005 Southern Conference Player of the Year. Kevin has completed his junior year at the University of Colorado. Keelin is a national-caliber soccer player entering her freshman year at women’s soccer power Portland University. Meghan will be a junior at Regis and plays basketball, as does Ryan who begins his freshman year at Regis High School.
1984-86 Princeton University, Assistant Coach
1986-93 Cleveland Cavaliers, Assistant Coach
1993-95 Atlanta Hawks, Assistant Coach
1995-97 Vancouver Grizzlies, Head Coach
1997-98 Denver Nuggets, Assistant Coach
1999-01 Golden State Warriors, Assistant Coach
2001-02 Golden State Warriors, Head Coach
2004- Indiana Fever, Head Coach
COLLEGIATE COACHING HISTORY
YEAR TEAM POSITION
1984-85 Princeton Assistant Coach
1985-86 Princeton Assistant Coach
NBA & WNBA COACHING HISTORY
YEAR TEAM POSITION
1986-87 Cleveland Cavaliers Assistant Coach
1987-88 Cleveland Cavaliers Assistant Coach
1988-89 Cleveland Cavaliers Assistant Coach
1989-90 Cleveland Cavaliers Assistant Coach
1990-91 Cleveland Cavaliers Assistant Coach
1991-92 Cleveland Cavaliers Assistant Coach
1992-93 Cleveland Cavaliers Assistant Coach
1993-94 Atlanta Hawks Assistant Coach
1994-95 Atlanta Hawks Assistant Coach
1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies Head Coach
1996-97 Vancouver Grizzlies Head Coach
1997-98 Denver Nuggets Assistant Coach
1999-00 Golden State Warriors Assistant Coach
2000-01 Golden State Warriors Assistant Coach
2001-02 Golden State Warriors Assistant/Head Coach
2004 Indiana Fever Head Coach
2005 Indiana Fever Head Coach
2006 Indiana Fever Head Coach
• All-American at University of South Carolina, graduated 1974
• Drafted First round (12th overall) of 1974 NBA Draft by Los Angeles Lakers
• 1974-75, Los Angeles Lakers
• 1975-83, Milwaukee Bucks
• Averaged 16.7 ppg during eight seasons in Milwaukee; 16.2 over nine-year career
• NBA All-Rookie Team, 1974-75
• NBA All-Star Team, 1976, 1978
• #32 jersey retired by Milwaukee Bucks, 10/28/83
• Third in Bucks’ history in assists (2,479); fifth in games played (582) and steals (718); and seventh in scoring (9,743)
Education: University of South Carolina, 1974
High School: Archbishop Molloy (Jamaica, N.Y.)
Hometown: Queens, N.Y.
Born: 3/1/1952 in Rockaway Park, N.Y.