Professional athletes are undoubtedly very knowledgeable about their respective games. Would anyone question that Michael Jordan knows almost everything there is to know about basketball? Or if Joe Montana is familiar with the ins and outs of football? That being said, living and breathing the game doesn't necessarily mean they'd be good at coaching. However, there have been many big-name players who have made the successful transition to coaching.
Robin Ventura - Chicago White Sox
Though nobody would place Robin Ventura in the all-time greats, he was among the most productive players of the last couple decades (not to mention he got in a legendary fight with Nolan Ryan). He played most of his career with the White Sox before finishing it off with stints with the Mets, Yankees and Dodgers. After retiring, he was quickly hired by the Sox to manage his former team.
In 2012, just his first year at the helm, Ventura has made the White Sox one of the best teams in the American League. Many baseball insiders expected the Detroit Tigers to run away with the American League Central, but Ventura's leadership has brought the Sox into a fierce divisional battle.
Jim Harbaugh - San Francisco 49ers
Over the last 10 years, few teams have been as continually disappointing as the 49ers. The team was a revolving door of coaches, players and inconsistent results. That all changed in 2011, when ownership brought in former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh to turn things around. With a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC Championship game, it's clear he did just that.
Harbaugh's success at the professional level mirrors his work in the college game. As coach at Stanford, he turned a former Pac-10 also ran into a national title contender, and helped tutor eventual number one draft pick (and current Indianapolis Colts QB) Andrew Luck.
Doc Rivers - Boston Celtics
Perhaps no player was better suited for coaching than Doc Rivers. The Celtics coach played for 13 years as point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs. His experience as a point guard made him adept at leading a team and his in-game strategy is among the best in the NBA.
He got his start coaching with the Orlando Magic, but his work with the Celtics has been truly remarkable. He helped turn a struggling team into a title contender in just one year, bringing a championship back to Boston in 2008. Since then, the C's have been among the best teams in the league, and they have Doc to thank.