Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone took time out of his postgame press conference Tuesday to ask why San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich does not have a place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame:
Ben Golliver @BenGolliver
Nuggets' Michael Malone spitting fire after Game 5 win over Spurs: "Why is Gregg Popovich not in the Hall of Fame? You have some of these college coaches who put up big money to help them get in. Gregg Popovich not being in the Hall of Fame is a damn shame." https://t.co/KwYqN60IIC
The Nuggets were coming off a 108-90 win over the Spurs to take a 3-2 lead in their NBA Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Popovich is currently eligible for the Hall of Fame, per the institution's official website:
"A coach must be either fully retired for four full seasons or, if still an active coach, have coached as either a fulltime assistant or head coach on the high school and/or college and/or professional level for a minimum of 25 years. That person will then be considered for Enshrinement in the sixth year of retirement or 26th year of active coaching."
Popovich has hit that 25-year mark based off his NBA tenure alone, which stretches back to 1988. However, he was also a head coach and assistant in the college ranks from 1973 to 1988.
There isn't any debate on Popovich's resume, either. He's led the Spurs to the playoffs each season from 1998 to 2019, in addition to five NBA championships and six Western Conference titles. Popovich is also a three-time NBA Head Coach of the Year, one who has amassed a lifetime 1,245-575 regular-season record.
Malone and Popovich are clearly friendly: The two also made postgame presser headlines on April 3 after the Spurs coach was tossed from a Nuggets-Spurs regular-season contest 63 seconds into the game:
However, anyone who has watched professional basketball even on a casual level knows Popovich is a deserving Hall of Fame candidate.
Of course, the real question here is what Malone meant by college coaches "who put up big money to help them get in." There isn't any shortage of coaches currently there from numerous levels, and it's safe to say Popovich's resume is very close to the top of the list. It remains to be seen whether there will be any follow-up over those comments in the coming days.
Regardless, the Spurs and Nuggets have to finish out their playoff series, which continues on Thursday. San Antonio will host Denver for Game 6.