When I look at the landscape of college basketball over the years, there have been a number of coaches getting less publicity than they deserve. I think about guys like Gene Keady, Eddie Sutton, Ralph Miller, Gene Bartow and Norm Sloan. They were solid leaders who went about their business and got the job done, winning in a professional manner.
Turning to the NBA, I think it's safe to say that some coaching giants have graced the sidelines and received a ton of PR -- Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, etc. These guys are Hall of Famers, baby!
But what about the guy doing an incredible job down in San Antonio? Gregg Popovich is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. He led the Spurs to four NBA titles in a remarkable nine-year run. Yet if you walked down the street and asked the average person if they knew who Popovich was, the majority of folks would shrug their shoulders.
Quietly, Gregg Popovich does a solid job year in and year out. Consistency is the trademark of his coaching. At this point in the playoffs, many felt that his Spurs would be history: put away by the Mavericks in the first round.
Well, think again my friends! Don't ever bet against this veteran coach come playoff time. He has a way of getting his team to play at a different level when the postseason rolls around. They perform to the best of their ability.
Isn't that the true sign of a winner and leader? I often define the ability of a coach by how much he gets out of his players. That certainly applies to Popovich.
This version of the Spurs is not the same as some of his past championship contenders. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are getting older, but they are still dangerous. This group has been successful for a long time, so is it that surprising there is another run left in them?
San Antonio has been putting up consecutive 50-win seasons for over a decade now. Naturally, Popovich deserves some ink -- some publicity for a job well done.
Do you think it is any coincidence that the leadership skills of a coach like Popovich could stem from his early days in the military? Think about the immense coaching success at the collegiate level with two West Point guys: Mike Krzyzewski (four national titles) and Robert Montgomery Knight (three championships). Popovich learned so much from his days at the Air Force Academy.
There is no doubt in my mind that, when the time comes, he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He has done a phenomenal job throughout his career and you cannot count out the Spurs, even in this postseason!
Popovich deserves a lot more ink for his success over the years. It all comes down to discipline, shot selection and playing as a team.
But it all comes back to the name P-O-P-O-V-I-C-H.