Entering his third season in Atlanta as an assistant coach following two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers is Bob Bender. Bender joined the 76ers staff in 2002 after 13 seasons as a college head coach and served as the Sixers' assistant coach/player development for the 2002-03 season. He was promoted to assistant bench coach prior to 2003-04.
The 1996 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Bender guided the University of Washington to a 116-142 record during his nine-year tenure (1994-2001), a mark that ranks fourth all-time among Washington coaches for career victories. Bender directed the Huskies to four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament from 1996 to 1999, a feat no other Washington head coach previously accomplished.
His 1998 squad, which featured former Sixers center Todd MacCulloch, recorded a 20-10 (.667) record, posting the school's finest winning percentage since 1985. Among their highlights that year was Washington's first 20-win season since 1987, their first NCAA tourney berth since 1986 and their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1984, falling in the final second to UConn.
Bender began his head coaching career with a four-year tenure at Illinois State (1990-93) where he was 60-57, earning two Missouri Valley Conference championships, one conference tournament title and an NCAA Tournament berth in 1990. He took home MVC Coach of the Year and Illinois Collegiate Coach of the Year honors in 1992, as the Redbirds posted an 18-11 record overall and a 14-4 mark in league play to share the regular season crown.
Prior to his stint at Illinois State, Bender was an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke (1983-89). The Blue Devils qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of Bender's six seasons on the staff, including four trips to the Final Four. While at Duke, Bender coached former Blue Devil and current Philadelphia GM Billy King and later worked with him at Illinois State.
The Duke graduate (history, 1980) has the distinction of being the only individual to play on two different teams in an NCAA Championship game. He was a freshman on Bob Knight's undefeated 1976 Indiana team and played point guard at Duke from 1977-80, including an appearance in the 1978 title game against Kentucky. Bender was drafted by the San Diego Clippers in the sixth round before his senior year, but did not play.
Bender, born April 28, 1957 in Quantico, Virginia, and his wife, Alice have two children, Mary Elizabeth and Robert Michael III.