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Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan
Current Team: San Antonio Spurs (1996 – present)
Record With Spurs: 797-383 (.675)
Overall Regular Season Record: 797-383 (.675)
Overall Playoffs Record: 108-73 (.597)
Coach of the Year (2003)
NBA Champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007)
When one thinks of the best NBA coaches over the history of the league, one usually thinks of Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach and Pat Riley among others. However, Gregg Popovich’s name should be placed right near that prestigious group.
As a counter to the dominant Lakers teams of the new millennium, Popovich’s Spurs teams formed “the other dynasty” of the past 12 seasons. Since 1997, no team in North American professional sports has had a better winning percentage. In addition, Popovich is currently tied with Larry Brown for third place all time in NBA playoff wins.
His success has in part led to his long tenure with the same team, currently the longest in the NBA. First in building the team around the “twin towers” of David Robinson and Tim Duncan only to be followed by the “Big Three” of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Popovich’s teams for most of his tenure have been among the top three in defense.
Of course, it helped having defensive aces in Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan and David Robinson. However, Popovich did much more in creating suffocating team defensive schemes.
On offense, Popovich always emphasized teamwork and ball movement, which is one reason why Tim Duncan never became one of the top scorers in the league.
He also had a knack for getting players to have some of their best three-point shooting seasons over the course of their careers while with the Spurs. Popovich’s ability to work with their shooting and get them open looks within the offense helped create more room on the interior for Duncan to operate more effectively.
With the Tim Duncan era coming to an end soon, Popovich may decide to follow suit and retire. But if he doesn’t end his coaching days, it would be an incredible honor for any team to have Gregg Popovich as a coach.