Tom Nissalke

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Tom Nissalke
Born Thomas Edward Nissalke
(1932-07-07) July 7, 1932 (age 85)
Madison, Wisconsin
Occupation NCAA collegiate and NBA coach, sportscaster, sports executive
Years active
  • 1956–1985 as coach
  • 1993–1994 – Commissioner (NBL (Canada))
  • 1985–2010, as Utah Jazz radio commentator
Spouse(s) Nancy Nissalke – 1960–2006 (her death)
Children Thomas Nissalke II, Holly, with two grandchildren, Caroline Anne and Bella Grace

Thomas Edward Nissalke (born July 7, 1932) is a retired American professional basketball coach in the NBA and American Basketball Association. He has coached several teams in both leagues, and has an overall coaching record of 371–508.

Coaching career[edit]

After a season with the then-Dallas Chaparrals (where he won ABA coach of the Year), Nissalke moved to the NBA with the Sonics for one season, he returned to the team, now in San Antonio, in 1973, bringing with him "a patterned, deliberate offense to San Antonio". During his tenure, the "Iceman" George Gervin had arrived from the Virginia Squires and was the center of the team. Though Nissalke's club was successful, he was fired in the beginning of the 1974–75 ABA season. Nissalke, who is a graduate of Florida State University, first got his start in coaching on the high school-prep level at the Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, he later worked his way onto the college ranks at the University of Wisconsin and Tulane.

Early pro coaching career[edit]

Nissalke then went to Utah with the ABA's Stars, but the club folded, surprisingly, at mid-season in the ABA's last hurrah in 1975–76. According to Remember the ABA, he has the final game ball in his closet.

Later coaching career[edit]

Nissalke later coached the then other existing Texas professional basketball team, the NBA's Houston Rockets (winning another Coach of the Year in the NBA in 76–77), followed by the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers, retiring in 1985.

Nissalke holds the rare distinction of being named "Coach of the Year" in both the NBA and the ABA, he was also the commissioner of the short-lived National Basketball League in Canada in 1993–94. He had a combined coaching record of 371–508 (248–391 in NBA and 123–117 in ABA), with an 11–20 playoff record, he went 105–91 with the Chaparrals/Spurs, 13–32 with the Sonics, 18–26 with the Utah Stars, 124–122 with the Rockets, 60–124 with the Jazz, and 51–113 with the Cavaliers. He made it out of the first round of the playoffs just once, in 1977.

Other Professional[edit]

Nissalke's entrepreneurial activities included developing and owning several health clubs throughout Texas in addition to co-owning a successful bar and restaurant, Green Street in Salt Lake City, Utah for over twenty years.

After his coaching career, Nissalke took on revamping the YMCA of Utah and served as Chairman of the Board and later interim CEO, the YMCA had its most successful fundraising campaigns during his tenure.

Head coaching record[edit]

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Dallas* 1971–72 84 42 42 .500 3rd in Western 4 0 4 .000 Lost in Div. Semifinals
Seattle 1972–73 45 13 32 .289 (fired)
San Antonio* 1973–74 84 45 39 .536 3rd in Western 7 3 4 .429 Lost in Div. Semifinals
San Antonio* 1974–75 28 18 10 .643 (resigned)
Utah* 1974–75 28 14 14 .500 4th in Western 6 2 4 .333 Lost in Div. Semifinals
Utah* 1975–76 16 4 12 .250 (folded)
Houston 1976–77 82 49 33 .598 1st in Central 12 6 6 .500 Lost in Conf. Finals
Houston 1977–78 82 28 54 .341 6th in Central Missed Playoffs
Houston 1978–79 82 47 35 .573 2nd in Central 2 0 2 .000 Lost in First Round
Utah 1979–80 82 24 58 .293 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Utah 1980–81 82 28 54 .341 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Utah 1981–82 20 8 12 .400 (fired)
Cleveland 1982–83 82 23 59 .280 5th in Central Missed Playoffs
Cleveland 1983–84 82 28 54 .341 4th in Central Missed Playoffs
Career 879 371 508 .422 31 11 20 .355

Family life and personal[edit]

Nissalke presently works as a radio pregame and halftime analyst and talk-show host for the Utah Jazz on 1320 KFAN; in January 2006, his wife of 46 years, Nancy, who also was a native of Madison, Wisconsin, died, succumbing to cancer. Together they had two children, son Thomas Jr., and daughter Holly, as well as two granddaughters Caroline Anne and Isabelle Grace.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bucky Buckwalter
Utah Stars head coach
Succeeded by
Team folded