Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs have been together for decades now, and it has yielded amazing results. With the largest playoff appearance streak in NBA history and 5 titles to show for it, the Spurs have become one of the most highly respected organizations in all of professional sports.
Popovich has, no doubt, been a huge part of it all, as his genius and skill in leading his players is unlike any other.
But all great things have to come to an end, right? Even for Popovich, one has to assume he'd consider a change of scenery all these years. While every team in the league would love to have a coach like Pop, the Brooklyn Nets posed a particularly significant opportunity.
With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant returning to the court next year, they are seeking a coach with reputation, significance, and experience. Perhaps nobody fits the bill more than Popovich.
Still, despite the rumors, the Spurs organization doesn't yet seem convinced their esteemed head coach will be leaving any time soon. Here's what Spurs CEO R.C. Buford said about the topic to Jabari Young of CNBC:
Asked about the Popovich to New York rumors, where former Spurs executive and current Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks could be seeking his services, Buford said the Spurs are “under the assumption” Popovich is returning. The coach is also scheduled to coach the USA basketball men’s national team in next summer’s rescheduled Olympic games in Tokyo.
“I don’t know if he’s told Brian any differently,” Buford said. “Pop’s shown nothing other than how we’re going to build our team for next year.”
But Buford added: “Pop’s vision will be in play long after his presence. That doesn’t mean it’ll be him in there making those decisions, but we’ve all learned together, and you’re not going to step away from a values-based, team-building aspect that focuses on culture and coming to work every day and working on it.”
Coach Pop hasn't stayed in San Antonio all these years just for the hell of it. He has built up a great relationship with the front-office, has built a solid home for him and his family in the city, and has found repeated success leading the team season after season.
No other team in the NBA could have pulled that off.
It is true that the Nets aren't going to stop their pursuit of Popovich. They will keep aiming for the sky, that much is certain. But you shouldn't expect the famous coach to so easily quit on the team he has called home for more than 20 years. They haven't given him much of a reason to leave.