The Spurs' official Twitter feed provided word on the latest accolade for the 65-year-old legend:
Popovich, who took over as San Antonio's head coach in 1996, previously won the award in the 2002-03 and 2011-12 seasons. He has four NBA titles on his resume: 1998-99, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2006-07.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports talked about the elite company Popovich joined with the award:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich named 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year (joins Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only three time winners of the award)— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 22, 2014
NBA.com also released the full voting breakdown:
- Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs, 380 points.
- Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns, 339.
- Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls, 159.
- Steve Clifford, Charlotte Bobcats, 127.
- Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors, 70.
- Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers, 25.
- Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers, 13.
- Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder, 1.
- Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors, 1.
- Jason Kidd, Brooklyn Nets, 1.
The genius of Popovich was on full display this season as the Spurs posted a record three games better than any other team in the league. Yet, no player on the roster played more than 30 minutes per night to make it happen (31-year-old Tony Parker led the way at 29.4 minutes per game, while 37-year old Tim Duncan was second at 29.2 minutes per contest).
When you have an aging core featuring Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili, managing minutes while keeping an eye on the playoffs is critical. But being able to secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs anyway is a testament to Pop's greatness.
He understands how to maximize the impact of role players. Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills are just some of the castoffs who have enjoyed career resurgences in San Antonio. Danny Green has also made major strides in his four seasons with the team.
Other coaches around the NBA have taken note of his success. Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram passed along comments from first-round counterpart Rick Carlisle, who made his feelings on Popovich clear:
Popovich is brutally honest and keeps it simple with reporters. In fact, his style has led to a number of memorable encounters over the years. A great example was provided by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News, when the Spurs coach was asked about the franchise's sustained success:
Pop reveals secret to Spurs' lasting success: "Get the No. 1 pick in the draft every 10 years and make sure it's a franchise player."— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) April 8, 2014
Where does Popovich rank among NBA coaches all time?
Every year, there's buzz about it potentially being the season the Spurs finally show signs of fading, and it hasn't happened yet as they chase another championship banner. Popovich is a major part of that consistency over time, even if he won't admit it.
His impact likely won't be fully appreciated, at least outside of the Spurs' fanbase, until he's gone. Exactly when that will happen is unknown because, much like everything else, Popovich hasn't talked about his future too often.
There's no doubt the players he's coached have helped on the road to becoming an all-time great. It's hard to win without talent, after all, but his influence can't be overlooked.
Now he's received another Coach of the Year honor to highlight just that.