The Phoenix Suns named Terry Porter the 13th head coach in franchise history, the club announced today.
“We are excited to have Terry as our new head coach,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr. “He is a strong leader and communicator, as fans of the NBA have seen since his days as a point guard. He is a tough-nosed competitor. Those qualities only enhance his experience as a head coach and assistant and provide a tremendous foundation for him to lead our basketball team.”
In Porter’s 22-year NBA tenure, his teams have made a staggering 20 playoff appearances, including two trips to the NBA Finals (1990, ‘92), six appearances in the conference finals (‘90, ’91, ’92, ’01, ’07, ’08) and eight division championships (’91, ’92, ’99, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’07, ’08). The former guard’s career spans two seasons as a head coach (Milwaukee), three as an assistant coach (Sacramento, Detroit) and 17 as a player in the NBA (Portland, Minnesota, Miami, San Antonio). It includes experience under some of the most respected coaches in league history: Jack Ramsay (1985-86), Rick Adelman (1989-94; 2002-03), Flip Saunders (1995-98; 2006-08), Pat Riley (1998-99) and Gregg Popovich (1999-02).
Porter takes the reins of his second NBA team after serving as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. In his rookie campaign, Porter’s Bucks were the highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference (fourth-highest in the NBA) while committing the East’s fewest turnovers. Milwaukee earned a playoff berth that season before being defeated by the eventual NBA Champion Detroit Pistons. The loss of starting point guard T.J. Ford for the entire 2004-05 season limited the club to a 30-52 record the following year. In two seasons with the Bucks, Porter’s clubs went a combined 71-93 and were an impressive 50-32 at home.
Porter’s wide-ranging basketball expertise is evident on both sides of the floor. As a player, his teams in Portland (1985-95) and Minnesota (1995-98) ranked in the top four in scoring offense in nine of his first 13 NBA seasons, including a league-best 117.9-point average in 1986-87 with the Trail Blazers. His last four seasons were spent in Miami (1998-99) and San Antonio (1999-2002) with clubs that each finished in the top three in scoring defense. As an assistant coach with Sacramento in 2002-03, the Kings finished third in the NBA in scoring offense. Porter takes the Suns’ helm after serving the last two seasons (2006-08) as an assistant with Detroit, who ranked in the top two in scoring defense both campaigns, and allowed a league-low 90.1 points in 2007-08.
The Milwaukee native is a two-time NBA All-Star (1991, 1993) and won the 1993 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, an honor also earned by Suns legend Kevin Johnson (1990-91) and current guard Steve Nash (2006-07). In 17 NBA seasons as a player, Porter established career averages of 12.2 points and 5.6 assists in 1,274 games after originally being selected with the 24th overall pick of the 1985 NBA Draft by Portland. The 6-3 guard retired following the 2002 season with 7,160 career assists, 11th-most in NBA history, including 5,319 assists as a member of the Trail Blazers, which still stands as a franchise record. Porter also still holds the NBA Finals record for most free-throws made in a single game without a miss (15; June 7, 1990).
The youngest of six children, Porter received his degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In 1999, he was given the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.