San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich is notorious for refusing to look beyond the next game, and for intentionally keeping his true feelings and opinions very private. Just ask any sideline reporter.
But following practice yesterday, the four (and perhaps soon to be five)-time champion gave an unequivocally clear look into his coaching future. In classic Popovich fashion, the 65-year-old answered when asked if he was going to coach next year “Sure.” He then followed up with his classic dryness, “I didn’t think I was going to have to answer those kind of questions today.”
Spurs fans will be much-relieved to hear that Pop will be back, as it likely means that Tim Duncan will be back as well. Previous reports have already suggested that the duo would be returning, but this is the first we have heard directly from one of the principle parties.
This 17 year relationship has been staggeringly successful, with six Finals appearances, four (and maybe five) NBA championships, 950 regular season wins, and 148 playoff wins.
The Spurs will lock up with Miami in Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight, with a chance to clinch their fifth title on their home court. They have been outstanding in their execution all series long, out-working the Heat on both ends of the floor and getting contributions from all members of their roster.
The fact that guys like Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, and Patty Mills have made such a huge impact on this series is a testament to the coach, who trusts everybody on his team in key situations and has built a system that allows them to thrive. While Tony Parker is the star and Duncan is the rock that keeps everything working, it’s Popovich whose fingerprints are all over each of their three victories thus far. He understands what each player’s strengths are, and puts each guy in a position to use those and exploit the weaknesses of their opponents.
One of the reasons the Spurs have been able to remain so successful is their tireless devotion to playing smart, executing their team offense, and never looking too far ahead. Those are traits instilled by their coach and enforced by their core players, and there’s no reason to think that even with another year under their belts they won’t continue to win 50-plus games per season long into the future.
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