A coaching veteran of more than 30 years in the professional and collegiate ranks, Alvin Gentry
was named the 14th head coach in Suns history on May 9, 2009, after originally being elevated to the role of interim head coach on Feb. 16, 2009. In just 195 games under his leadership, Gentry’s Suns have compiled a 112-83 (.574) record, giving him the sixth-highest win percentage among coaches in franchise history.
Suns basketball under Gentry has been a winning brand that has featured two signature qualities: a high-scoring style of basketball that has made the team the league’s most exciting to watch, and a dominant home-court advantage.
In his first full season as the Suns’ head man in 2009-10, Gentry was a two-time NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month winner for November 2009 and March 2010. He guided the team to 54 wins, his career high as a coach, and earned his second career playoff berth as a head coach, first since 1998-99 as leader of the Detroit Pistons. Gentry coached the Suns to 10 postseason victories in 2010, tied for the second-most in a single postseason in franchise history, and became just the fifth coach in franchise history to lead his team to a Western Conference Finals berth in his first full season.
Five times in seven seasons that Gentry has been with the organization, and two of his three seasons as head coach, the Suns have led the NBA in scoring. During his tenure as head coach, Phoenix has averaged 109.2 points.
Since taking over with 31 games remaining in 2008-09, Gentry has won nearly 70 percent of the club’s home games, compiling a 69-30 (.697) mark that includes an impressive .714 win percentage against the ultra-competitive Western Conference (45-18).
Named the club’s interim head coach after the 2009 All-Star break, Gentry’s 31-game tenure with the Suns in 2008-09 saw him lead the club to a 46-36 (.561) finish, the second-most victories for a non-playoff team in the 25-year history of the NBA’s 16-team playoff format, as he compiled the highest winning percentage of any interim coach in the NBA (.561). He returned the Suns to the franchise’s high-scoring roots as Phoenix averaged an astounding 117.7 points following his promotion. Phoenix raised its overall scoring average five full points to 109.4 for the season, which best the best mark in the NBA. The Suns opened Gentry’s tenure with a bang: a 40-point victory, the largest following a coaching change in NBA history, and three-straight 140-point efforts, the first time the NBA had seen such prolific scoring in three consecutive games in nearly two decades.
Originally hired by the Suns as an assistant coach on June 1, 2004, Gentry served in that position the previous four-plus seasons before earning the midseason promotion in 2008-09. In 21 seasons in the NBA, Gentry has worked alongside some of the game’s most respected coaches, including Larry Brown, Kevin Loughery, Doug Collins and Mike D’Antoni, who have combined for more than 2,000 NBA victories.
Gentry is at the helm of his fourth NBA team after stints with the Los Angeles Clippers (2000-03), Detroit Pistons (1997-2000) and Miami Heat (1995). Gentry took over for Collins in Detroit on Feb. 2, 1998, and the next season his 1998-99 squad earned a playoff berth. In 2001-02, his second season with the Clippers, he guided Los Angeles to an improbable 39-43 (.476) record, the team’s highest win total in nearly 10 seasons. That came a season after leading the club to a 16-win improvement in 2000-01, his rookie campaign with the club.
Gentry received his first head coaching opportunity with the Miami Heat, taking over for Loughery on Feb. 14, 1995, after serving as an assistant with the Heat from 1991-95. Miami compiled a 15-21 (.417) record under his guidance.
The 58-year-old Gentry, who assisted the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team in training camp as they prepared for the 2006 FIBA Men’s World Championships in Japan, made his entrance into the NBA as an assistant to Brown with the San Antonio Spurs in 1988-89. That came the season after serving under Brown with the 1988 NCAA Champion Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team. Gentry subsequently moved to the Clippers for one season as an assistant under Mike Schuler.
He played point guard at Appalachian State for coaching legends Press Maravich, the father of “Pistol Pete,” and former Georgia Tech Head Coach Bobby Cremins. Gentry graduated from Appalachian State with a degree in management in 1977.
After graduation, his cousin, former NBA All-Star David “Skywalker” Thompson, arranged a tryout for him with the Denver Nuggets and although he didn’t make the cut, he made an impression on Brown, who later hired him.
Gentry began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Colorado during the 1977-78 season. After one year working in private business, he returned to the bench when he received his first full-time collegiate assistant coaching job at Baylor in 1980. Gentry then returned to Colorado as an assistant coach from 1981-85 before joining Brown at Kansas.
Gentry and his wife Suzanne have two children, Ryan Marcus and Matthew Jackson. He also has one daughter, Alexis.