Ever since he won his first NBA title in 1999, Gregg Popovich has easily been the best coach in the league. San Antonio’s lovable curmudgeon of a leader has guided the squad to five titles in that time, more than any other coach. The most amazing part is that he’s done it with frequent roster turnover outside of three players: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
However, no matter how great a coach is, basketball is ultimately a player’s game. That’s why Pop told a group of children during today’s stop on the NBA’s tour of Africa that the Spurs’ success – and, ultimately, his own success – is because of “Coach Duncan.”
Popovich and Duncan probably deserve an equal share of the team’s success over the last 16 years. While Duncan has constantly been spectacular in San Antonio, as evidenced by his unfathomably consistent per-36 numbers, Pop has put together a system that is appealing to players while also developing players in a way that no other NBA franchise has over that period of time.
Sadly, the end is probably drawing near for the duo, as Popovich said that he’s likely retiring whenever Duncan does. With how the Spurs reloaded this offseason, maybe the duo can grab one more ring before that happens.