John MacLeod, the longest-tenured and winningest head coach in Phoenix Suns history, died at age 81 on Sunday morning.
He compiled a Suns franchise-record 579 wins from 1973 to 1987.
MacLeod’s time with the Suns included nine playoff berths, a franchise-record 37 playoff victories, three Western Conference finals appearances and a trip to the 1976 NBA Finals, the first appearance in team history.
He would go on to coach the Mavericks – who he would take to Game 7 of the 1988 Western Conference finals before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers – and the Knicks. MacLeod later served as an assistant for Scott Skiles in his first season as a head coach. He finished with a 707-657 record as an NBA head coach, the 18th-most wins in league history.
MacLeod also coached in the college game, leading Oklahoma from 1967-73 then Notre Dame from 1991-99 following his NBA coaching career. He compiled a 196-193 record as a college coach.
MacLeod was placed in the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor in 2012.
The Suns released a statement on Sunday:
“We are saddened today to learn of the passing of Suns Ring of Honor member and all-time winningest head coach, John MacLeod. A brilliant tactician on the sidelines, Coach MacLeod engineered the first great era of Phoenix Suns basketball, including as the catalyst of the 1975-76 ‘Sundarella Suns’ and their memorable run to the NBA Finals. His passion for the game was matched only by his endearing personality, humility and class, a man who was loved by everyone that had the pleasure of interacting with him. Coach MacLeod was a winner in every sense and will be dearly missed by our entire Phoenix Suns family. Our thoughts are with his lovely wife Carol, daughter Kathleen and son Matt, during this difficult time.”