Gregg Popovich, Head Coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is one of the most decorated coaches in NBA history. In fact, some consider the three-time Coach of the Year award winner to be the greatest NBA coach of all time. With five championships to his credit, Coach Popovich and his Spurs are often considered to be the standard on how an organization should function in the association.
19 consecutive winning seasons doesn’t come easy, but that’s just what “Pop” has managed to accomplish over the course of his career. The only other coaches to have 19 or more consecutive winning seasons are Pat Riley (19) and Phil Jackson (20).
Recently, LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar small forward, was asked what it’s like facing Coach Popovich. Nate Scott of Fox Sports recants James’ quote in his recent article.
I think he’s the greatest coach of all time,” James said after his impressive performance on Thursday night against the Suns.
“You have to be sharp, mentally and physically, when you go against his ballclub. If you were an NFL player, it’s probably the same as going against a (Bill) Belichick team,” James continued. “What they’re going to do, they’re going to do, and you have to try to figure it out.”
Popovich holds James in high regard as well, as he stated last year.
He’s a great player. He’s not just athletic. He’s incisive,” Popovich said early in the 2014-15 season. “He understands the game the way Magic (Johnson) did, the way Larry (Bird) did, the way Tim Duncan does. He knows a whole lot more of about what he’s doing and what he has been doing than you all. He’s a character guy, he’s good people, and he’s got a great heart.”
Now, with Coach Popovich taking over as Head Coach of Team USA Basketball for Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s legendary Head Coach and keeper of three previous Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012, 2016), James tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that it could factor into his decision to participate in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It factors a lot,” James said Saturday, before the Cavs play the Spurs. “I’ve said that before. He’s just a great mastermind of the game of basketball.”
James sat out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Jeneiro after his sixth consecutive run to the NBA Finals. If The King does in fact choose to participate in the 2020 games, he would be 35 years old. However, “The Akron Hammer,” as James is known, is showing no signs of slowing down.