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. Testimony ends in Sterling probate trial, closing arguments next week

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT

    Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling

    We know how this movie is going to end, Donald Sterling will lose the Clippers, we just don’t know how we will get there yet.

  2. Rockets signing draft picks Clint Capela, Nick Johnson

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Houston’s other second rounder, Alessandro Gentile, to remain in Europe

  3. Report: Ballmer’s $2 billion Clippers offer nearly double what Bank of America valued team at

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT

    Steve Ballmer Steve Ballmer

    If you really want something and you can afford it, why not? But Ballmer overpaid big for the Clips.

  4. Report: Celtics moving on from Kevin Love pursuit

    Jul 23, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Does this mean Boston will trade Rajon Rondo?

  5. Report: Ray Allen to get MRI on knees then decide future plans

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability Getty Images

    If Kevin Love goes to Cleveland does that impact Ray Allen’s decision?

  6. Summer League in Las Vegas sets records for attendance, viewership

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:09 PM EDT

    Wizards Warriors Basketball AP

    Numbers show a substantial increase in popularity.

  7. Dante Exum knows his leap from high school games to Summer League was not smooth

    Jul 23, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT

    Dante Exum AP

    Exum is a project but he also could be the point guard of the future in Utah.

  8. Dwyane Wade says he was asked why he flops by a kid at his basketball camp (VIDEO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade Dwyane Wade

    “I was about to get him kicked out of the camp,” Wade joked.

  9. Report: Jameer Nelson near $2.7 million deal to join Dallas Mavericks

    Jul 23, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics, Game 6 Getty Images

    Good pickup to add some depth at the point, something Dallas needed unless you’re expecting a monster bounce-back season for Raymond Felton.

  10. Raymond Felton pleads guilty on gun charges, will avoid jail

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Felton orange jersey Getty Images

    He was given community services, which he can complete in Dallas where he was traded.

  11. Rumor: Sixers have ‘strong interest’ in Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    dion waiters Getty Images

    Waiters will continue to be rumored to be available until he proves he can fit in with Kyrie Irving.

  12. Report: Mavericks void Rashard Lewis’ contract after it’s discovered he needs knee surgery

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Three Getty Images

    Dallas was counting on him for bench depth and now will be looking to replace that help in a depleted market.

  13. Report: Sixers, Nuggets or Celtics could become third team in Kevin Love trade to Cavaliers

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    US forward Kevin Love dunks the ball aga US forward Kevin Love dunks the ball aga

    Minnesota wants to dump some bad contracts as part of the deal, and Cleveland isn’t taking them.

  14. Jerry Stackhouse has contacted Lionel Hollins about a coaching job with Nets

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2 Getty Images

    Stackhouse coached against Hollins at adidas Eurocamp in Italy this summer.

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4327)
  2. A. Wiggins (3299)
  3. L. James (3263)
  4. R. Allen (2954)
  5. E. Bledsoe (2867)
  1. K. Bryant (2717)
  2. D. Rose (2648)
  3. L. Stephenson (2350)
  4. K. Marshall (2335)
  5. C. Boozer (2328)