It’s hard to argue with a Mount Rushmore of NBA coaches. Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich are as clear-cut a top coaching quartet as you will find in any major sport. With all due respect to John Kundla, who should have been on the league’s list of 15 greatest coaches ever for leading the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships in his first six seasons as coach from 1948 to 1954, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich are as clear-cut a top coaching quartet as you will.
Gregg Popovich Sitting In The Hall Of Fame
On Friday, Popovich defeated the Utah Jazz for the 1,336th time in his career, passing Don Nelson for the most regular-season victories in league history, so it’s time to consider if the 73-year-old steward of the San Antonio Spurs is the greatest coach of all time.
Popovich improves the potential of practically everyone he coaches instead of luring big-name free agents to San Antonio. With Duncan and David Robinson as twin towers, he won a crown, and with Stephen Jackson as his third choice, he won another. He won his third and fourth rings by defeating the Phoenix Suns in seven seconds or less. And he did so by leading a symphony offensive that produced some of the most beautiful basketball the game has ever seen against the two-time reigning champion Heat.
Gregg Popovich’s résumé is devoid of flaws if any at all. To counter any style of play, he discovers potential, develops it, and optimizes it. For two decades, he established a culture of respect and responsibility that made San Antonio an improbable NBA hub. When it comes to constructing a dynasty from the ground up, only Auerbach can compare, and we can all agree that it was a far more difficult challenge for Popovich in the free-agent era.