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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich becomes the all-time winningest head coach by breaking Don Nelson’s NBA record ever



San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich becomes the all-time winningest head coach by breaking Don Nelson's NBA record ever

Gregg Popovich became the all-time winningest head coach in the NBA with 1,336 triumphs and passed Don Nelson’s NBA record ever. Head coach Gregg Popovich is now the NBA’s all-time leader in regular-season wins after the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Utah Jazz 104-102 at home on Friday from AT&T Center.

The possibility that a coach could take over an NBA team, coach it for 26 seasons, bring home five championships, have only four losing seasons, go the playoffs 22 back to back seasons, and become the league’s all-time winningest coach with that single franchise in a small market appears to be curious in an era where the average coach lasts about four seasons with one team.

Except if that coach is Gregg Popovich, who dared to install himself as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs in 1996. It was the start of a historic career that will one day put him in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The 73-year-old entered the day attached with Don Nelson for first with 1,335 successes. He as of now possesses the NBA’s coaching win mark incorporating playoffs with 1,526 triumphs.

Popovich outperformed Don Nelson, who previously held the record for most regular-season wins, with the San Antonio Spurs’ 104-102 triumph over the meeting Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs are making and selling 1,336 NFTs (one for every one of Popovich’s successes), with continues going to the San Antonio Food Bank.

Earlier this season, Popovich became the first head coach in NBA history to lead a similar team for at least 2,000 games. He procured that honor after the Spurs beat the Boston Celtics 99-97 on Jan. 5.

“It’s just a testament to a whole lot of people,” Popovich said. “Something like this does not belong to one individual. Basketball’s a team sport. You preach to your players that they have to do it together and that’s certainly been the case in my life with all the wonderful players and coaches, the staff that I’ve been blessed with, the support of this wonderful city. The fans support us no matter what.

“All of us share in this record. It’s not mine. It’s ours, here in the city.”

The Spurs set a video free from Nelson after the game, saluting Popovich – – whom he called one of his best friends – – and letting him know how glad he is of his former assistant’s achievements “and all the wonderful things you’ve done for basketball, worldwide.”

“I’m so proud of you for doing it,” Nelson said. “I couldn’t wait for this day to happen. And I just want you to know as one of my best friends in life I just wish you the best for your remaining years in the NBA.”

Popovich, 73, is in his 26th season with the Spurs, the longest residency of any head coach in each of the four of the U.S. major sports leagues.

“Gregg Popovich’s success with the Spurs is unprecedented in our league so it’s only fitting that he now holds the record for most career wins,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

“His leadership and unwavering commitment to the game are widely admired by generations of players and coaches alike. Congratulations to Coach Pop on this latest achievement in his legendary career.”

Following the game, Popovich was given the game ball by Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray in a joyful locker room celebration.

“Coach Pop you deserve it and we all love you and we’re glad we’re here to be able to enjoy this moment with you,” Murray said in introducing Popovich to the ball to commemorate the accomplishment.

Murray prior had said the Spurs didn’t talk about Popovich closing in on the record however added that the players were prepared to celebrate the achievement.

“Pop doesn’t like praise,” Murray said. “He doesn’t like any of that. It’s kind of a good thing. But you also want to remind him of his success because it’s rare. Because he’s a guy that just wants to focus on winning every day. He never brings up anything to praise himself.

“We don’t talk about [the record], but we damn sure going to enjoy it when we do get it for him because he’s a great man and he deserves it. He pushes all his players, whether you’re the first guy, last guy, G-League player, 10-day contract, he embraces you from day one. He deserves everything.”

Long-term Spurs point guard Tony Parker additionally offered early congrats toward his former coach.

“Very happy for Pop,” Parker told ESPN. “Very happy. That is a helluva achievement. Well-deserved. That shows his hard work ethic and longevity.”

Popovich, who was named among the NBA’s 15 biggest head coaches ever in February, has brought home five titles and three Coach of the Year awards. He has a record 23 consecutive winning regular seasons and had a streak of 22 straight playoff appearances.

In the wake of coaching at Pomona-Pitzer in Claremont, California, Popovich joined Larry Brown’s Spurs staff in 1988. After four seasons with the Spurs, Popovich joined Nelson’s staff in Golden State in 1992 as an assistant.

“He’s just the greatest coach to ever lace them up,” Nelson told ESPN. “When I hired him as an assistant coach, I figured he could learn something from me. But I learned more from him than he learned from me, that’s for sure.”

He’s the fourth coach, returning to the end of the NBA’s first season, to remain on the successes list. Red Auerbach held the mark for about 50 years, followed by Lenny Wilkens, followed by Nelson – – and presently, Popovich.

“The ironic thing about this is Nellie gave me a job when I didn’t have one back in ’92,” Popovich said. “He took me on. To be in this position, in the same breath as him, is in my opinion undeserving and quite awkward because he was so wonderful in saving my family’s ass. So, it’s ironic that I’m sitting here in this situation.”

Popovich was with Golden State for two seasons before getting back to San Antonio as the general manager and VP of basketball operations in 1994.

During the 1996-97 season, Popovich moved back to the bench, taking over as head coach, where he has remained from that point onward.

“It’s like a no-brainer,” said Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer, who spent 17 seasons as a Spurs assistant coach. “If you want to do the top three or the Mount Rushmore [of coaches], I don’t think there’s any doubt where he is and where he belongs. The success, consistency, and longevity, and the impact he’s had on an entire organization, on individual players, on coaches, on GMs, on scouts, on equipment guys, on families. He’s been incredibly impactful in just so many ways that go way, way beyond the wins and the games and the championships and all those things.

“Just the consistency to have it, not now, but for 20 years to be a championships contender, playing for championships and playoffs, I just don’t think you will ever see that again from one organization, from one coach. That run, the [New England] Patriots kind of similar, I think that is the thing that I know I am probably the most in awe of.”

With the Spurs in a remaking stage, wins have been harder to stop by for Popovich this season. However, those near him call attention to that this is simply one more example of his significance – – his ability to adapt to the times, the changing game, and ability and skills on his roster.

“I think he’s adjusted, he’s adapted,” Hall of Fame center David Robinson told ESPN. “He’s won under different circumstances with different mixtures of teams. We were a dominant defensive team, to [the teams] with Kawhi [Leonard] and all those guys, they were dominant offensively. They had a nice mix [on both sides]. And even now, you see how he’s had to adjust to a very, very different team.

“I think that’s what’s made him great. How do you win 67% of your games or whatever it is for 25 years? It’s ridiculous. It’s pretty amazing.”

Popovich has long had respect from his players and his peers. Other than his coaching achievement, Popovich has generally been vocal about what he has confidence in, taking represents social justice and racial equality.

And keeping in mind that Popovich has now won more matches than some other NBA coach, some of his players and staff members additionally recall how he did some of his best work after unbearable misfortunes by keeping his team together.

After an overtime loss in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, when the Spurs lost partially because of Ray Allen’s famous 3-point shot, Popovich accumulated his team for dinner in Miami and comforted every one of his devastated players. The Heat beat the Spurs in seven games, yet San Antonio ricocheted back to beat them in the Finals the next season.

“After losing Game 6 when it was almost the championship won, his phrase was [often], ‘Win it together. Lose it together. Man’s got to eat.’ So we ate together,” longtime Spurs forward Manu Ginobili told ESPN. “We talked and basically cried together, and we looked at each other and he went one table at a time with different players, had conversations, and tried to cheer us up when we were devastated. That was another great example of leadership and trying to hold us together and optimistic about the next one or trying to find answers.”

He has led the Spurs beginning around 1996. They made the playoffs every year from 1998-to 2019. That sign of 22 straight playoff seasons is an NBA record.

San Antonio has likewise won five NBA Finals and six Western Conference titles during Popovich’s residency. He has gone 1,336-694 of every 26 seasons, adequate for a .658 winning percentage.

Enveloped with that amazing accomplishment are exceptional accomplishments that will be hard to copy: the life span with one team combined with the success in that market.

Of the top 10 all-time winningest coaches, just Popovich has spent his whole NBA head coaching career with one team. Jerry Sloan enjoyed 23 of his 26 seasons with the Utah Jazz, making Popovich the longest-tenured coach with one team in NBA history.

Of the 13 coaches with somewhere around 900 triumphs, only five (Popovich, Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, and Jerry Sloan) have a winning percentage higher than .600. Everything except Sloan has different titles, remembering Popovich’s five for 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014.

A coach doesn’t remain in one place that long without progress, and achievement doesn’t come without skilled players. Popovich had them: David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Many Ginobili.

Popovich was lucky in numerous ways, which he has recognized. The Spurs won the lottery in 1997, permitting them to select Duncan. They were at that point a decent team, winning 59 games in 1995-96. Be that as it may, an injury to Robinson the following season helped put the Spurs in the lottery.

Drafting Parker late in the first round in 2001 and Ginobili late in the second round in 1999 were the results of best of luck and quality front office work.

He was and is requesting, and the Spurs aren’t so much for each player. Popovich is going through the harshest stretch of his career in terms of wins and losses. This will be his third successive losing season. In any case, he’s actually coaching. The Spurs stay competitive and Dejounte Murray became a first-time All-Star this season. He’s working with youthful players who will profit from his coaching long after he retires.

Nobody can contend with the results from one of the best coaches in NBA history.

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