Nate McMillan enters his third season as the Pacers’ head coach after three years as the team’s Associate
Head Coach under Frank Vogel. His background, former player, head coach and assistant coach in the
NBA, as well as an assistant with USA Basketball, made him very well qualified for this job. He has shown
why in his first two seasons.
The Pacers have made the playoffs both years going 42-40 the first season before losing to Cleveland
in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, 4-0. But in those four games, the Pacers only lost by an average of
four points. Then last season, with seven new faces on the roster – including five who would play key
minutes – the Pacers surprised the NBA. With many picking the Pacers to win around 30 games and going
to the NBA Lottery, the Pacers instead became the surprise story, and one of the best stories, for the 2017-
18 season. They went 48-34, earned a No. 5 seed in the playoffs and extended the Eastern Conference
champion Cavaliers to seven games in a tightly-contested first-round series. The Pacers’ performance
earned McMillan sixth place in Coach of the Year balloting and, in September, a contract extension.
“I’m really proud of what Nate and our coaching staff have done,” said Pacers President of Basketball
Operations Kevin Pritchard. “Nate is very deserving of this extension. We have a wonderful culture and he
has been a big part of implementing that culture. He’s a dedicated leader, a very good coach and we’re
lucky to have him here with the Pacers.”
“I’m very appreciative of Kevin and Mr. Simon (team owner, Herb Simon) for this show of faith in what we
are doing,” said McMillan. “Going back two years ago when I was hired, the trust Larry (Bird) and Mr. Simon
had in myself and my staff meant a lot. Now with this extension, it’s an affirmation of what we all – front
office, coaches, players, staff – are trying to accomplish.”
The 54-year-old (8/3/64) McMillan has a vast basketball background as a player and a coach. After playing
collegiately at North Carolina State, McMillan was drafted by Seattle (30th overall) in the 1986 NBA Draft. He
played his entire 12-year career with the Sonics and had his number (10) retired. He is second in franchise
history in assists and steals and ranks in the top 10 in eight other categories. He was named to the NBA’s
All-Defensive team twice (1994 and ’95) and led the league in steals in the 1994-95 season with 2.96 per
game. In his 12 seasons with the Sonics, they reached the playoffs 11 times.
After his playing days, McMillan was a Seattle assistant coach for two years and became the interim
coach in 2000. He remained the Sonics’ coach until 2005 and then became Portland’s head coach until
he was let go in March 2012. In 2008-09, he led the Trail Blazers to 54-28 record, sixth-best record in
franchise history and helped the Trail Blazers reach the playoffs in three of his six seasons. McMillan
compiled a 458-429 (.516) record as a head coach for both teams. He also served as an assistant coach
for the U.S. National Team where he won gold medals in the 2006 FIBA World Championships, the 2008
Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics.
While many believe McMillan’s strength as a player, defense, carried over to his coaching, McMillan says,
“I’ve been labeled a defensive guy. Yeah, I played defense, but you have to be able to play both sides of
the ball, and if you expect your players to be two-way guys, you better be able to coach both ways. I coach
And since his first time around as a coach, McMillan has done what all good coaches have done: go to
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “My approach is a little different than it was in 2005. Things have changed.
The players have changed. How you coach these players has changed. The biggest thing is being able to
adapt. There’s a lot of old school in me. I won’t lose all of that, but I understand you have to adapt to this
generation of players as far as how you communicate with them, prepare them.”
McMillan was also inducted into the National Junior College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 after playing
at Chowan College before transferring to North Carolina State.
McMillan and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Jamelle and Brittany.
H E A D C O A C H WE GROW BASKETBALL HERE INDIANA PACERS 2018-1 9 YEARBOOK