Joseph A. Mullaney (November 17, 1925 – March 8, 2000), an American basketball player and coach. Mullaney was born on Long Island, New York. After graduating from Chaminade High School in Mineola he played college basketball at Holy Cross (with Bob Cousy). In 1947 Holy Cross won the NCAA Championship. He played briefly for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
After college, Mullaney worked in the FBI before returning to basketball as coach at Norwich University in Vermont.
Mullaney became head basketball coach at Providence College in 1955. He coached the Friars from that time until 1969. He returned to Providence as head coach in 1981 and remained there until 1985. Mullaney won 319 games in his 18 seasons at Providence, losing 164 for a career winning percentage there of .660. Mullaney won the 1961 and 1963 National Invitation Tournament championships at Providence. Mullaney also took the Friars to the NIT four other times and into the NCAA tournament three times. His assistant and protege at Providence, Dave Gavitt, went on to be a successful coach of the Friars in his own right, taking them to the 1973 Final Four and eventually providing the catalyst to the founding of the Big East Conference.
Mullaney left Providence in 1969 to coach the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, succeeding Butch van Breda Kolff who took the Lakers to the NBA Finals that year, losing 4 games to 3 to the Boston Celtics.
In the 1969-70 season the Lakers overcame several injury problems and finished 46-36, first in the Western Division. Wilt Chamberlain was lost to injury early in the season and Elgin Baylor was also lost to injury later; both returned in time for the playoffs. The Lakers were the NBA runner up that year. They defeated the Phoenix Suns in the division semifinals and Atlanta in the division finals. The Lakers lost a tight NBA Championship series 4 games to 3 to the New York Knicks.
In the 1970-71 season the Lakers finished 48-34, first in the new Pacific Division. The Lakers defeated the Chicago Bulls in the conference semifinal but lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Western Conference Finals.
In 1971 Mullaney became the fifth coach of the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association, succeeding Frank Ramsey in 1971. Mullaney coached the Colonels for two seasons before Babe McCarthy succeeded him for the 1973-74 season.
In the 1971-72 season the talent-laden Colonels finished with a remarkable record of 68-16, the best ever record in the history of the ABA, finishing first in the Eastern Division. Incredibly, the Colonels lost the 1972 Eastern Division Semifinals to the 44-40 New York Nets, 4 games to 2. Mullaney coached the East team to a 142-115 win in the ABA All Star game that season.
In the 1972-73 season the Colonels finished 56-28, good for second place in the Eastern Division. The Colonels beat the Virginia Squires 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Division Semifinals, beat the Carolina Cougars 4 games to 3 in the Eastern Division Finals, and lost the American Basketball Association Championship 4 games to 3 to the Indiana Pacers.
After the 1972-73 season Mullaney left the Colonels to coach the Utah Stars. Mullaney was replaced in Kentucky by Babe McCarthy. Oddly, McCarthy and Mullaney both were named co-ABA Coach of the Year for the 1974-75 season.
In the 1973-74 season Mullaney coached the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association to a 51-33 record, finishing first in the Western Division. The Stars defeated the San Diego Conquistadors 4 games to 2 in the 1974 Western Division Semifinals and the Indiana Pacers 4 games to 3 in the 1974 Western Division Finals but lost in the 1974 ABA Championship to the New York Nets 4 games to 1. Mullaney coached the West team in the ABA All Star Game, losing to the McCarthy-coached East squad 128-112. Mullaney was replaced as coach of the Stars by Morris "Bucky" Buckwalter after that single season in Utah.
During the 1974-75 season Mullaney coached the Memphis Sounds of the American Basketball Association. The Sounds finished with a record of 27-57 and in fourth place in the Eastern Division. Their season was ended by Mullaney's old team, the Kentucky Colonels, en route to the Colonels' 1975 ABA Championship.
In December 1975 Mullaney became coach of the Spirits of St. Louis. Mullaney took the helm in St. Louis in midseason after the team opened with a record of 20 wins and 27 losses under coach Rod Thorn. Mullaney was the final coach of the Spirits of St. Louis, as at the end of the 1975-1976 season the Spirits, along with the Kentucky Colonels, were the only two ABA teams that did not join the NBA in the ABA-NBA merger.
After the 1975-76 season Mullaney coached the Buffalo Braves of the National Basketball Association. Mullaney was brought on board by the Braves' new owner, John Y. Brown Jr., who had previously had an ownership interest in Mullaney's old team, the Kentucky Colonels. Despite Adrian Dantley earning Rookie of the Year the Braves finished in fourth place at 30-52.
Mullaney coached in Italy and then for Brown University from 1978 through 1981 before returning to Providence College to coach the program from 1981 to 1985.
Mullaney died of cancer in Providence, Rhode Island on March 8, 2000, aged 74. He is buried in North Providence.