7 Reasons Gregg Popovich Will Never Be Phil Jackson
Both have secured themselves a place in the record books and a spot in everyone's top coaches of all time. The real question is, which one is better?
Both can make a strong argument, but while Coach Popovich has revolutionized San Antonio basketball, he is far from reaching the Zen Master's level.
Regular Season Record
When comparing the two masterminds, statistically, Phil Jackson has the clear edge.
In his sixteen seasons with the Spurs, Popovich led his team to an overall win record of 1246-847, a win percentage of .680. This is a fantastic percentage and clearly proves that Popovich deserves consideration as one of the best coaches ever, but in this category, Jackson had Pop beat.
Jackson boasted a win-loss record of 1155-485, with an overall win percentage of .704.
From a playoff perspective, it also also apparent that Phil's teams were much more dominant. His .688 win percentage was significantly larger than Pop's .603.
His teams won a total of 229 playoff games, over 100 more than Popovich.
Never has Phil Jackson missed a trip to the postseason—something that cannot be said of Popovich, who failed to make the team in the pre-Duncan era.
He coached his way to more Finals than Popovich as well. His 13 appearances is nine more than Popovich's four, showing his complete dominance in the playoffs.
The ultimate goal of every NBA player, coach or executive is to finish the season as the champions, hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy in the air in a storm of confetti.
This is undeniable, as all of their efforts go towards achieving this goal.
In Popovich's career, he has managed to win a ring four times, a total that is in no way something to laugh at. However, Phil Jackson's total is enough to leave you stunned. Jackson has finished on top 11 times, one of the highest totals in NBA history.
He has also brought his teams to an additional two Finals in which they walked away empty-handed. Popovich's sole Finals appearances were his four victories.
Pop has been fantastic in the postseason, but not comparable to Jackson and his lasting success.
Another difference between Jackson and Pop's teams was their overall level of consistency.
Both were among the most dominant teams almost every year, but how often were they the most dominant? Popovich's four titles came in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. If he manages to win his fifth this year, his titles are placed thirteen years apart.
Meanwhile, Jackson's teams were dominant for long periods of times. His first title came in 1990, and he followed that up winning both times in the next two years. Then from 1996 to 2002 he managed to win six times, two sets of three-peats that were interrupted during Michael Jordan's hiatus from basketball.
To top it off, Jackson won a back-to-back pair in '09 and '10.
Popovich coached some great teams, but never quite as dominant as Phil's that brought him three three-peats and one back-to-back.
Two Seperate Dynasties
The biggest difference between the two careers of Jackson and Popovich were the teams that they coached.
Since his very first few years as the San Antonio Spurs' head coach, Popovich's team has consisted of the same core—Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili.
This core has brought him three championships and have been his partner's in crime for the majority of his his career.
Jackson did not limit his coaching to one team, however. He was the leader of the Bulls in their 90's dominance, as well as the Lakers who have been so good in this past decade.
While Popovich may very well have been able to do this, he has been born and raised a Spur, and he'll never get the chance. This will prevent him from ever becoming Phil Jackson.
He'll Never Get the Chance
The biggest thing that will prevent Popovich from ever becoming Jackson, however, is the fact that he will never get the same chances as Jackson.
He seemed to always end up on a team with stars, something Popovich didn't really have. Duncan was a great player, and arguably the greatest power forward of all time, but he is no Jordan.
Put Pop on that '92 Bulls team and he'll bring back a championship too.
The two careers are debatable and while Popovich may have more talent, he'll never get the chances that Jackson did, which will prevent him from ever being known in history as a better coach than Phil Jackson.