Rick Carlisle praises Gregg Popovich

SAN ANTONIO -- As far as Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is concerned, NBA Coach of the Year isn't enough of an honor for San Antonio Spurs counterpart Gregg Popovich.

"Why don't we just give him Coach of the Century?" Carlisle said after Wednesday's shootaround at AT&T Center, before Game 2 of the teams' first-round series. "I mean, he's the greatest. Obviously, [Coach of the Year is] very well deserved. They were almost a wire-to-wire top seed in the league, and he's the best. He's the best."

Popovich, whose Spurs recovered from a devastating Finals loss last season to roll to a league-best 62-20 record despite dealing with nagging injuries to several key players, received the honor Tuesday for the second time in three seasons. He joined Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only three-time winners of the award.

Carlisle, the award's winner in 2001-02 while with Detroit, has consistently raved about the remarkable job Popovich has done guiding the Spurs to four championships and 15 consecutive seasons with at least 50 wins.

During a visit to San Antonio last season, Carlisle said with a straight face that Popovich is "the smartest man in the history of the world." When the Spurs were in Dallas earlier this month, Carlisle called Popovich "the best coach in any sport ever, in my opinion."