Gregg Popovich was named Coach of the Year on Tuesday after guiding the Spurs to the league’s best record while having none of his players average more than 30 minutes per game.
San Antonio made it to the Finals a season ago, so it’s not like Popovich worked miracles in this particular campaign to get his team back to the top of the standings. But as Kurt Helin summed up in the original post on Popovich winning the award, that’s where his genius lies.
“What he has done in San Antonio took years — he has built a culture and system that can plug in the right players and get them playing to their strengths. He’s built a selfless system and gotten players willing to share the rock — “great not good” is the mantra and the players buy in, moving off the ball and making the extra pass.”
The Spurs are in the playoffs for the 17th straight season, and they don’t barely sneak in, either. San Antonio has posted at least 50 wins in all but one of those years, with the lone exception being the 37-13 record the club posted in the lockout-shortened, 1999 season — the year the Spurs won their first title.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, facing Popovich in the first round of the playoffs, seems to understand the magnitude of his opponent’s accomplishments.
“Why don’t we just give him Coach of the Century?” Carlisle said after Wednesday’s shootaround at the AT&T Center before Game 2 of the Spurs-Mavs series. “I mean, he’s the greatest. Obviously, [Coach of the Year is] very well deserved. They were almost a wire-to-wire top seed in the league, and he’s the best. He’s the best.”
This was essentially my argument in not picking Popovich on my nonexistent Coach of the Year ballot. This year, there were others more deserving. But certainly, not this century.