Entering his second season with St. Louis, Swarm General Manager and Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff holds the task of maintaining the high standards of winning, excellence and respect he instilled when he joined the organization on August 31, 1999. Guiding his team to an International Basketball League-best 47-17 record, the IBL West Conference Title and the inaugural 1999-2000 IBL Championship title while earning the IBL’s first-ever Coach of the Year Award, Bickerstaff established himself and his Swarm team as one of the most consistent and most successful teams in the IBL.
Bickerstaff has worked hard to develop a championship team that would compete at the highest level of standards and remain one of the IBL’s most successful franchises both on and off the court. Through his first season in the IBL and his 27th year in professional basketball, the 26-year NBA veteran remains one of the most talented head coaches in the world of professional basketball.
In addition to his success on the court, Bickerstaff maintains a prominent role in the front office as a general manager, owner and active member of the Swarm’s Board of Directors. With his dual role as general manager, he is directly responsible for masterminding the Swarm’s player personnel in order to build a solid and diversely talented team. While remaining a coaching consultant for the Harlem Globetrotters, Bickerstaff added several new roles to his roster this season, serving as an analyst for NBA.com and 1 on 1 Sports NBA Insider as well as a color analyst for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs broadcast team.
In his first year as the head coach for the Swarm, Bickerstaff was named the International Basketball League’s first-ever Coach of the Year for the 1999-2000 season, as well as being awarded the Coach of the Month in February. In his IBL debut, he led the Swarm to the West Conference Regular Season Championship, the West Conference Finals and an undefeated 5-0 playoff record en route to capturing the IBL Championship. He coached the team to a league-best 47-17 season record, including the best road record (20-12) and the second-best home mark (27-5) in the league.
Prior to joining the Swarm, Bickerstaff spent 10 seasons as an NBA head coach with the Washington Wizards (1997-99), the Denver Nuggets (1994-97) and the Seattle Supersonics (1985-90) and 12 seasons as an assistant coach with the Washington Bullets (1973-85). In his 11 years as a head coach in both the NBA and IBL, his career head coaching record stands at 385-365, with his 338 NBA victories ranking him 32nd among the NBA’s winningest coach list.
Midway through the 1996-97 season, Bickerstaff stepped down from his position with the Nuggets to become the head coach of the Washington Wizards, returning to the city where he began his NBA career. Bickerstaff became the 14th head coach in Wizards history, and continued with the team 32 games into the 1998-99 NBA season. He immediately turned the struggling squad around, leading the team to 16 wins in 21 games down the stretch, vaulting the Wizards to the 1997 NBA Playoffs, its first playoff berth in nine seasons. In 1997-98, Bickerstaff recorded his 300th regular season win (1/4/98), coaching the Wizards to a 42-40 record.
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