Alvin Austin Attles Jr. (born November 7, 1936) is an American retired professional basketball player and coach best known for his longtime association with the Golden State Warriors.
He is a graduate of Weequahic High School in Newark and North Carolina A&T State University. He has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and History along with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. He intended to just be a coach at his local junior high school when he was drafted by the Warriors. He initially declined before accepting and going to training camp.
Attles joined the then-Philadelphia Warriors in 1960. On March 2, 1962, he was the team’s second-leading scorer with 17 points on the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. There is a probably apocryphal story to the effect that one of the sportswriters covering the game began his filing with the lede “HERSHEY, Pa. — Wilt Chamberlain and Al Attles combined for 117 points last night as the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the New York Knicks 169-147.” Attles moved with the team to the Bay Area at the end of the 1962 season, playing until 1971. Attles was known as “The Destroyer” due to his defensive specialities along with once punching a player in the jaw. He was a role player on the 1964 Warriors team (with Wilt Chamberlain and Guy Rodgers) that made the NBA Finals and eventually lost the championship series to the Boston Celtics, four games to one. Attles also played on the Warriors’ 1967 team that lost to Chamberlain’s 68-13 Philadelphia 76ers in an evenly matched, six-game championship series.
Attles later became one of the first African-American coaches in the NBA when he was named player-coach of the Warriors midway through the 1969–70 season, succeeding George Lee. Attles guided the Rick Barry-led Warriors to the 1975 NBA championship over the heavily favored Washington Bullets, making him the second African American coach to win an NBA title (the first was Bill Russell). Attles’ team tried to repeat the following season, but they lost to the Phoenix Suns in the Conference Finals in seven games. The team would make the playoffs only once more for the remainder of his tenure as coach. Attles was replaced by Johnny Bach for the last 21 games of the 1979–80 NBA season (a season in which the Warriors finished tied for dead last), though he returned for the next season (Bach would become Attles’ permanent successor after 1983). Attles coached the Warriors until 1983, compiling a 557-518 regular season record (588-548 overall including playoff games) with 6 playoff appearances in 14 seasons. During the 1983–84 season, Attles worked as the Warriors’ general manager. He is the longest-serving coach in Warriors history.