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. Why the 2015 NBA playoffs feel wide open – but probably shouldn’t

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    With most 2014 conference-finalists eliminated, Warriors are clear favorite

  2. PBT Extra: Houston, Dallas simply do not like each other

    Apr 18, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Their rivalry goes back until the Dwight Howard free agent recruitment. If not earlier.

  3. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: ‘There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets’

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1 Getty Images

    Cuban also says of Houston: “that’s not a very good team over there.”

  4. PBT staff playoff predictions: Lots of Golden State love from us

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Draymond Green, LeBron James AP

    Three PBT writers pick the Warrior to beat the Cavaliers in the Finals.

  5. PBT Extra: Injuries make Grizzlies, Trail Blazers series hard to predict

    Apr 17, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Marc Gasol Marc Gasol

    Wesley Matthews. Arron Afflalo. Nicolas Batum. C.J. McCollum. Chris Kaman. Mike Conley. Tony Allen. All injured.

  6. PBT Extra: Will Spurs depth, versatility prove too much for Clippers?

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    I just think Doc Rivers the GM has tied the hands of Doc Rivers the coach too much — the Spurs versatility and depth gives Gregg Popovich more options.

  7. PBT Extra: Anthony Davis, Pelicans made playoffs. Will they get a fifth game vs. Warriors?

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    It’s great to see Anthony Davis on the playoff stage for the first time. Even if it doesn’t last long.

  8. PBT Awards: All-NBA

    Apr 17, 2015, 1:11 PM EDT

    NBA All-Star Game 2015 Getty Images

    Four of five first-team spots are unanimous

  9. Rumor: LaMarcus Aldridge more likely to leave Trail Blazers in free agency than people realize

    Apr 17, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyson Chandler AP

    That may be true, but he’s still likely to stick in Portland

  10. PBT Awards: MVP

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Serbia v USA - 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championship Getty Images

    The 3-1 edge goes to…

Featured video

Can Boston put a scare in Cleveland?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5508)
  2. L. James (5309)
  3. C. Parsons (5240)
  4. P. George (4860)
  5. D. Rose (4822)
  1. M. Conley (4665)
  2. R. Westbrook (4658)
  3. K. Bryant (4437)
  4. S. Curry (4422)
  5. M. Gasol (4219)