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Gregg Popovich voted NBA Coach of the Year

Apr 22, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

Gregg Popovich Gregg Popovich

This doesn’t happen enough — the best coach in the game being named the NBA Coach of the year. Usually it goes to the guy who most exceeds expectations, but the best coaches almost always have insane expectations for their squads and even if they meet them they can’t blow them out of the water.

This year it goes to the best in the game — San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has been named the NBA Coach of the Year.

Popovich received 59 first place votes (out of 125 from media members) and had 380 total points, which kept him just ahead of Jeff Hornacek of Phoenix, who came in second. After that it was a big step back to Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau who was third.

This is Popovich’s third COY award. Popovich will likely shrug at this news, followed by saying something short but nice for the cameras. Then he will get back to coaching, which is what he really wants to do. In 20 years this award trophy likely will be found in a box in Popovich’s garage. Recognition like this does not drive him.

What he has done in San Antonio took years — he has built a culture and system that can plug in the right players and get them playing to their strengths. He’s built a selfless system and gotten players willing to share the rock — “great not good” is the mantra and the players buy in, moving off the ball and making the extra pass. It’s a system where when a future Hall of Famer like Tony Parker goes down and Patty Mills can step in and put up numbers. Marco Belinelli is unimpressive in some stops then comes into this system and is asked to play to his strengths shooting threes and becomes a real weapon.

Popovich is simply the best coach in the NBA right now. Hands down. No question. He led the Spurs to the best record in the NBA. He deserves this.

After the top three of Popovich, Hornacek and Thibodeau, the rest of the voting went Steve Clifford (Charlotte, 8 first place votes), Dwane Casey (Toronto, 5 first place votes), Terry Stotts (Portland, 2 first place votes), Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers, 1 first place vote), and finally the trio of Scott Brooks, Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd each got one third place vote. (Jackson’s vote comes from Warriors reporter Ric Bucher of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, Brook’s comes from Dominique Wilkins the Hawks legend and broadcaster, Kidd’s came from Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.)

  1. bucrightoff - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    To me, the most amazing thing about the job Pop did this season was that not a single Spurs player averaged more than 30 minutes a game. He is without a doubt the master of managing players, to go along with being the best schematic coach in the league. There is simply no one close to Popovich as a coach right now, and only 2 other guys (Phil, Red) are in the same leaugue historically.

    • spursareold - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      Pop’s greatest strength as a coach is his ability to change. He’s had so many different kinds of teams, offensively. The only real constant is defense.

  2. flickflint - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Scott Brooks sucks…. No reason Westbrook should have shot that three at the end of the 4Q. Get the ball to KD

    • spursareold - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      Brooks is an empty suit. Throwing the ball out and saying “Go to it, KD and Russ.” isn’t coaching, it’s observing. It’s also the reason that Miami has, and will continue to steam roll them. OKC has no system to lean into when times get tough. They try to “out athlete” Miami, and that’s a very tall order.

      • kavika6 - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        “Brooks is an empty suit”

        Funny a Heat fan would say that since it’s actually a perfect description of Spoelstra.

      • spursareold - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        Not a Heat fan.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        Like spursareold, I’m not a Heat fan, but Spoelstra is a much better coach than Brooks. The Heat actually have a coherent system on offense involving off the ball movement. OKC’s “system” on offense is a Westbrook or Durant pick-and-roll, and if that doesn’t work, a Westbrook or Durant iso.

        Meanwhile, once it became clear that Joel Anthony’s defensive contributions were outweighed by his uselessness on offense, Spoelstra committed the Heat to playing small so that way nobody on the court could be ignored on offense.
        Scott Brooks meanwhile coaches like a guy who simply hasn’t noticed that the Thunder play a lot better with Perkins off the court against certain teams, especially the smallball Heat.

        You might be saying, “Putting his best players on the court and designing a coherent system on offense is coaching 101, so how does that make Spoelstra great?” My response is, “It’s not that Spoelstra is great, but rather, it’s that Brooks really sucks.”

      • unxpexted1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Yea i’m more of a Heat hater than anything but I have to give spoelstra his props. They have great ball movement and offensive sets in the half court. And he makes really good pre and in game adjustments with his lineups. He’s definitely made me recognize him as a really good coach.

        Brooks on the other hand doesn’t seem to adjust much. I think the only thing you can say about him is he lets his players play. But you see where that gets him with RW. He’s out of control and can’t coral him. Also his lineups are awful at times.

  3. spursareold - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Third CoY for Pop.


    • casualcommenter - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      Also, the preview tagline for this news article on the main feed is “The best coach in basketball finally wins the award,” which gives the false impression that he’s never won it before.

      So to review, the preview tagline gives the false impression he’s never won it before, and the article falsely states he’s only won it once before, so we have to go to the comment section to actually get some correct facts about Pop’s history with the award.

      • bkbell3 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        If you read the article it said it’s his 3rd COY, unless they originally said 2nd and then edited it but it does say 3rd COY.

  4. csbanter - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Jeff Hornacek deserved that award and you can make a case for Dwayne Casey and Terry Stotts. No outrage over Popp winning, so be it.

    • spursareold - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      Hornacek was a worthy candidate, but giving the award to the coach of a team that makes a huge leap is setting that coach up for failure and subsequent firing. It’s tough to do an encore of such a year when everyone is waiting for you next season. If you look at the list of winners since 99-00, MANY of them were fired within a year or two of winning the award. I think the media has finally figured out that abberative good years aren’t necessarily good coaching, and has given the past 5 awards to playoff coaches, most with top half conference seeds.

    • duhwighthoward - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      @csbanter, he didn’t make the playoffs. Oh wait, you probably think Kevin Love deserves the MVP.

  5. SBoy - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Congrats to Pop, a worthy winner and truly a great coach… To say no one is close is a bit of an exaggeration. What Tom Thibodeau is doing in Chicago without one lock future hall of famer is pretty special. He is in the conversation.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      “This doesn’t happen enough — the best coach in the game being named the NBA Coach of the year.”

      This year plus the past 5 years, 4 of the 6 awards have gone to the coach of the team with a #1 seed. Only 2 of the awards have gone to coaches whose teams weren’t a top seed but simply overachieved.

      So is the award going to the coach of the top team in the NBA 4 of the past 6 times really “Not enough”?

      • casualcommenter - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Sorry SBoy, I didn’t mean to post that comment as a reply to your comment.
        It was supposed to be its own stand-alone comment about the article itself.

  6. lj312chicago - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Okc runs a NYC offense in crunch time…instead of melo ISO it’s Westbrook or Durant….and everyone knows it’s goin to be a step back jumper

  7. lj312chicago - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    It’s a sports center would casual…everyone has ADD now

  8. antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Pop is overrated and this only tells me that Tim Duncan is going to be perpetually under-appreciated.

    • davidly - Apr 22, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      Duncan will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Pop is a huge reason why he’s been successful. The only reason he is not perennially in the GoaT conversation is that there are too many others that have overshadowed him and his accomplishments, including a current player in the league who dominates that conversation as you may well be aware.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        I think Duncan is a huge reason why Pop has been successful. I think Pop has been holding Duncan back a little bit – like he did in the finals last year.

  9. andreboy1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Pop has won the award three times total and twice in the last three years.

    I have more NBA knowledge then these writers.

  10. davidly - Apr 22, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Well, that would be an apt metaphor, were it the case. Synecdoche. And I’m sure Duncan would disagree. It’s hard to argue with the team’s consistent success, in spite of Pop’s notorious choke last season.

    Nah, in my opinion, Duncan’s skill-set thrives within the self-consciously fundamental team ball concept in San Antonio. And as far as *currently* holding him back goes, he’s extended his career.

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