What Happened to Jack Mckinney? Why Did He Leave the Lakers?


Jack Mckinney was a professional basketball coach who was one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. However, his career suffered a significant setback after he was involved in a serious accident, prompting people to question, Why Did Jack Mckinney Leave The Lakers? Find out what happened to Jack McKinney and why he left the Lakers by reading further.

Who Exactly is Jack Mckinney?

McKinney was an obscure assistant coach who served with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers, the latter of which won an NBA championship in 1976-77. However, despite setting the tone for the renowned ‘Showtime’ offence, the Pennsylvanian never got a chance to make a name for himself as the Lakers’ head coach due to an accident that led to his dismissal.

Why Did Jack Mckinney Leave the Lakers?

It was a bizarre accident that destroyed a promising career. McKinney became involved in a bicycle collision. According to The New York Times, McKinney was riding his bicycle to meet Westhead for a tennis match in the Palos Verdes neighbourhood of Los Angeles on November 8, 1979, following a 9-4 start to the Lakers’ season. As McKinney reached a stop sign, his bicycle gears jammed, and he was catapulted over the handlebars and into the road. The impact between his skull and the pavement caused brain damage and a three-day coma. Due to the tragedy, McKinney’s health and career would be irrevocably altered. Jack McKinney’s time with the Lakers is shown in the HBO drama series “Winning Time.”

What Really Happened to Jack Mckinney?

McKinney, pleased with his team’s success, decides to take a much-needed break from basketball on the suggestion of his wife. McKinney chooses to engage in a tennis match with Paul Westhead. On his way to see Westhead at a tennis court in Palos Verdes, McKinney is involved in a near-fatal accident, which ends his tenure as the Lakers’ coach prematurely.

The incident is based on actual events, as on November 8, 1979, Jack McKinney was involved in a catastrophic bicycle accident. McKinney exited his home on a red and white Schwinn La Tour II bicycle. As he approached the intersection of Whitney Collins Drive and Stonecrest Road, he used the brakes, only to have the gears jam and send him flying off the bike. His skull struck with the concrete, resulting in severe injuries. McKinney spent three days in a coma at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance.


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After the sad event, McKinney’s assistant, Paul Westhead, was appointed interim head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Due to Westhead’s on-court performance and concerns about McKinney’s, Westhead was promoted to full-time coach and McKinney was never given another chance. Under Westhead’s direction, the team won the championship during the 1979-80 season. After recovering from his injuries, McKinney began his coaching career by joining the Indiana Pacers in 1980. Jerry Buss reportedly insisted on his employment.

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Jack McKinney’s Spouse

There is little information available about Jack McKinney’s wife. We will provide updates as soon as we discover relevant information about Jack McKinney’s personal life. While coaching the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association, he developed the Showtime style of fast-paced play (NBA).

Due to a bicycle accident, his sole year with the Lakers was cut short. After joining the Indiana Pacers in 1981, McKinney was selected Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Association. He also coached the Kansas City Kings as head coach.


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Additionally, he served as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2005, McKinney co-authored a book on his experience at Saint Joseph’s and donated 10% of the proceeds to the school. McKinney passed away on September 25, 2018, in a hospice in Bonita Springs, Florida, at the age of 83.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Did Jack Mckinney Depart the Los Angeles Lakers?

Due to an accident, he was forced to quit the Lakers.

How Old Was Jack When He Passed Away?

On September 25, 2018, McKinney passed away at the age of 83.

When Did He Receive the NBA Coach of the Year Award?

In 1981, he was named NBA Coach of the Year.

When Did His Coaching Career Come to an End?

His career as a coach ended in 1984.

When Was He the Lakers’ Head Coach?

In 1979, he was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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