Skip to content

Popovich believes foreign coaches can thrive in NBA — if they get a chance

Oct 10, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT

BKN-NBA-FINALS-SPURS-HEAT-GAME 6 Getty Images

Just a quick glance down the Spurs roster — Tony Parker, Nando De Colo and Boris Diaw from France; Manu Ginobili from Argentina; Marco Belinelli from Italy; Tiago Splitter from Brazil; Patty Mills from Australia — and you know Gregg Popovich and the Spurs brain trust believes some foreign coaches are getting it right.

From there, how big a leap is it to one or more of coaches leading a team in the NBA?

While there are still some NBA decision makers who don’t believe a European coach’s style of play or work, or that he would struggle to relate to American players, Popovich is not among them. Look at what he told the Express-News’s Spurs blog.

“A lot of guys could be coaching in our league,” he said. “Basketball has become an international sport. The coaches have improved all over the world, just like players have. There are good coaches and good players no matter where one might look.”

This comes up as the Spurs squeaked out a 95-93 win over CSKA Moscow Wednesday, a team coached by the legendary Ettore Messina. He came as close as any foreign coach to landing an American head coaching job when he spent a season as an assistant with the Lakers. But that stay lasted just one season.

Messina thinks it will be a “long time” before someone else gets a chance. Popovich thinks it depends on the organization.

Said Popovich, “”A team just has to have guts.”

Guts and the right management, looking to bring in the right players to fit the system. Give a top European coach a team with talent — say the Thunder or Heat or Spurs — and they could win, if they can get buy in from the players. If the respect is there. The right coach can earn that.

Of course, the real fast track for a foreign coach who wants an American gig would be to become one of Popovich’s assistants — Jacque Vaughn, Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown all got head coaching jobs in the last two years. The Popovich stamp of approval is like a Golden Ticket into Willy Wonka’s factory.

Latest Posts
  1. Golden State picks up 60th win, clinches top seed in the West

    Mar 29, 2015, 12:26 AM EDT

    Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry AP

    The Golden State Warriors are the team to beat out West.

  2. NBA, Pacers issue statement in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act law

    Mar 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Adam Silver AP

    Legislation was signed into law in Indiana last week, and has been criticized as one that could legalize discrimination.

  3. Hawks to rest all five starters Saturday after clinching East’s top seed

    Mar 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks Media Day Getty Images

    Hornets, still fighting for a playoff spot, catch a break.

  4. Stan Van Gundy: ‘Absolutely no chance’ Magic induct him into team Hall of Fame

    Mar 28, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Stan Van Gundy Stan Van Gundy

    Van Gundy coached five seasons in Orlando, but was fired after the way the Dwight Howard debacle played out.

  5. Warriors coach Steve Kerr: ‘I would vote for Russell Westbrook’ for MVP

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Kerr was joking, and making light of a mini-controversy that occurred recently with the Cavaliers.

  6. Earl Clark signs 10-day contract with Nets, contributes to win over Cavaliers

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Clark played key bench minutes the same day he was signed.

  7. Stephen Curry scores 38 in Warriors’ blowout win over Grizzlies (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Warriors keep rolling, while the Grizzlies are starting to feel like a first round loss.

  8. Kevin Love finds LeBron James for huge alley-oop slam (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    Highlight-reel play came near the end of a loss to the Nets.

  9. LeBron after Cavaliers fall to Nets: ‘You don’t chalk up losses’

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:44 PM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron refused to be dismissive of a seemingly harmless regular season loss.

  10. Shaquille O’Neal says he regrets leaving Magic for Lakers

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Orlando Magic add Shaquille O'Neal to team's Hall of Fame Getty Images

    O’Neal made the remarks while being inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.

  11. Draymond Green launches “It’s cool Glen” line of T-shirts in latest banter between him, Doc Rivers

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    b2644bf0-d4c9-11e4-bb85-27743e449672_csg

    The battle between Green and Doc Rivers continues in the funniest of ways.

  12. Cavaliers coach David Blatt: ‘LeBron James is our MVP’

    Mar 27, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game 1 Getty Images

    Blatt knows James is unlikely to get the league-wide award this season.

  13. No Durant, what does that mean for Thunder in these playoffs? Trouble.

    Mar 27, 2015, 6:12 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

    The Thunder defense has become a mess, which is bad for the playoffs.

  14. Report: UNLV freshman guard Rashad Vaughn to enter NBA draft; Vaughn denies it

    Mar 27, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    San Jose State v UNLV Getty Images

    He is likely a middle second round pick if he comes out.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5956)
  2. L. Aldridge (5595)
  3. K. Lowry (5453)
  4. R. Rubio (5335)
  5. G. Hayward (5271)
  1. N. Batum (5091)
  2. G. Monroe (5087)
  3. A. Shved (5005)
  4. K. Martin (4993)
  5. P. George (4979)