Gregg Popovich is arguably the greatest head coach of all time.
But, when looking at a coach’s success, what do you usually look at? Winning seasons? Championships? Well, Popovich has both of those (20 consecutive winning seasons & 5 time NBA Champion). What people don’t notice, is what Pop orchestrates behind the scenes.
Player development, player loyalty, bringing in free agents and making something out of nothing. Popovich has it all, and his affect on his players and coaches around him is everlasting.
Jonathon Simmons is a prime example of the Popovich effect. The undrafted rookie signed with San Antonio in 2015, and in just two years under Pop’s system, he finds himself as one of the shining young stars in the league. Oh, he also has a new 3 year, 18 million dollar deal with the Orlando Magic, where he’ll be one of the centerpieces of the franchise alongside Aaron Gordon.
Simmons, who only took on a significant role in the Spurs offense last year took advantage of his opportunity. With the grooming of Pop, he finds himself in a starting role with a team looking to build. You have to ask yourself, if Simmons had signed with any other team, would he be where he is today?
Another intangible Pop displays is the loyalty and respect for his players. Past stars such as Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have stayed with the Spurs their whole career, and have taken on any role Pop has given them.
The fact that mutual respect and loyalty between the players and coaches exists, it creates a positive attitude and a winning culture that Popovich fully believes in.
Compare that to Carmelo in NYC, that franchise is pathetic to say the least. This may be far fetched, but bring in Popovich… the whole dynamic changes. Carmelo would take on a better role, players like Porginzis and Ntilikina would progress into superstars. But that will never happen, and the Knicks will stay as one of the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference.
This year, the Spurs got swept by the dynasty in Golden State, but what most people forget is that they were up 21 points in Game 1. The Spurs, with one superstar (Kawhi Leonard) could have fought with the Warriors, whose starting lineup could practically be the Western Conference All-Star team lineup.
Why is this? The coaching of Popovich, the mastery and precision that he can implement in picking his opponent apart. It’s truly spectacular to say the least.
Gregg Popovich is easily one of the most decorated coaches of all time, and he will undoubtedly go down as one of the all time greats. But for now, let’s just sit back and watch him work his mastery, one game at a time.