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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A player-coach, in sports, is a member of a sports team who simultaneously holds both playing and coaching duties. Such an individual may be called a player-manager in sports where the title "manager" is used instead. The term can be used to refer to both players who serve as head coaches (or managers), or as assistant coaches.

Virtually no professional sports teams have head coaches who are also players, though it is extremely common for senior players to take a role in coaching more junior athletes. It remains common in amateur and semi-professional sports. For instance, a common career path for former Australian Football League players immediately after their retirement is as player-coaches in suburban or rural leagues.

Player coaches in basketball

The player-coach was, for many decades, a long-time fixture in professional basketball. Many notable coaches in the NBA served as player-coaches, including Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens. This was especially true up through the 1970s, when the league was not as financially successful as it is today, and player-coaches were often used to save money. The practice fell out of favor in the 1980s (though Mike Dunleavy Sr., while an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, once came out of retirement and played several games when a rash of injuries decimated the team). Today, the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the players' union prohibits the use of player-coaches, in order to avoid circumventing the league's salary cap, as coaches' salaries are not counted under the cap. Therefore, if a player is to serve as a coach, he would have to receive commission from his contract as a player. The player, then, is not technically an official coach of his team but instead simply a coach in name. One example of a player in recent years who was groomed for eventual official coaching duties using this practice was Avery Johnson.

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