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. Sunday NBA grades: Nene, Aldridge lead day where big men shine

    Apr 21, 2014, 2:32 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game One Getty Images

    Aldridge set a Blazers record with 46 points in a playoff game. Nene reminded everyone why he

  2. Bulls have no answer for Nene as Wizards take Game 1

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT

    Nene, Carlos Boozer Nene, Carlos Boozer

    Nene gets his first start since February and the Wizards steal Game 1.

  3. Charlotte is scrappy but Heat have too much in comfortable 99-88 win

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh

    Bobcats were scrappy, but with Al Jefferson hurting Miami just had too much LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

  4. Gregg Popovich interview with Craig Sager Jr. actually a get-well wish (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    popovich sager1

    Touching moment as Gregg Popovich delivers a heartfelt message.

  5. Spurs use huge 4th quarter run to come back and win Game 1 vs. Mavericks

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT

    Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan

    Spurs close the game on a 19-4 run after trailing by double digits.

  6. NBA issues statement saying Chris Paul was fouled before late-game turnover against Warriors

    Apr 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Chris Paul, Draymond Green Chris Paul, Draymond Green

    Statement confirms referees handled replay review correctly, but also admits that they missed the initial foul call on a critical possession.

  7. Jim Buss says he’ll step down if Lakers aren’t contenders again in ‘three to four years’

    Apr 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Jim Buss Jim Buss

    If Jim Buss fails to deliver in quickly rebuilding the Lakers, he says he’ll resign.

  8. Hibbert says he’s the “weak link on defense,” hopes for better Game 2

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game One Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert owned up to a poor Game 1. Will he do anything about it in Game 2 is the question.

  9. Raptors say malfunctioning shot clocks will be fixed in time for Game 2 vs. Nets

    Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    raptors shot clock

    Shot clocks stopped working midway through the third quarter, but Raptors say all will be well in time for Game 2.

  10. Thunder start fast, cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:44 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

    OKC led by as many as 25 points in the first half.

  11. Kyle Korver swats Roy Hibbert’s shot out of bounds (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert wasn’t good in Game 1 against the Hawks, and this play epitomized his performance.

  12. Pacers’ troubles continue as Hawks convincingly win Game 1

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT

    Pacers' Hibbert looks down court during Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series against the Heat in Indianapolis Reuters

    The eight-seed Hawks blowout the Pacers in Game 1.

  13. Warriors take Game 1 from Clippers

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Warriors steal Game 1 in Los Angeles.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (3146)
  2. L. James (3027)
  3. C. Anthony (2822)
  4. K. Durant (2795)
  5. S. Curry (2792)
  1. D. Rose (2633)
  2. A. Bogut (2511)
  3. B. Griffin (2432)
  4. R. Westbrook (2373)
  5. C. Paul (2337)