“Greg Popvich has

amassed five titles,
more than any
other active coach
in the league.”
Taking the Heat
By: Wade Mitchell
ith his San Antonio Spurs’ 2014
championship victory over
LeBron James and the Miami
Heat, head coach Greg Popovich has
amassed five titles, more than any other
active coach in the league. But Popovich, or
“Pop” as he is known by many of his fans
and players, did not take the typical road to
being a head coach in the NBA.
In 1970, Popovich graduated from the
United States Air Force Academy with a
degree in Soviet studies, considering a
career as a spy for the CIA
1
before deciding
on becoming a coach. His first head
coaching opportunity came in 1979 when he
took the reins of a lowly NCAA Division III
school. The
Pomona-Pitzer's
went 2-22 his
first season. By
the end of his
eight year stay
Pomona had
won its first conference championship in 68
years
2
.
In the summer of 1988, Popovich joined the
NBA as an assistant coach and was able to
work his way up to be named as head coach
of the San Antonio Spurs in December of
1996. Eighteen years later, Popovich is the
longest tenured coach among all of the four
major professional sports, and a continued
knack for winning with his non-
conventional approach has made him a rare
coaching legend.

One example of Popovich’s determination to
play by his rules is in his strategic benching
of older star players like Tim Duncan. This
has repeatedly lead to controversy, most
notably while he sent Duncan and other
players home to rest during a nationally
televised road game against the Heat in
2012. Commissioner David Stern was
outraged with the decision calling it
“unacceptable” and the league issued a hefty
$250,000 fine. When questioned about his
decision Popovich replied, “I’m mostly
concerned with the health and safety of my
players, especially the ones who are a little
bit older. When they need rest, I’m going to
give it to them.”
3

This care for his players transcends sports as
entertainment, and has resulted in the trust
and long term health of his players. It is
what makes the Spurs the reigning NBA
championship team and Greg Popovich the
2014 Coach of the Year.

1
Groves, Roger. "What We Should Know About Gregg Popovich Before He Coached The Spurs." Forbes. Forbes
Magazine, 16 June 2014. Web.
2
Gregg Popovich - Head Coach / President of Spurs Basketball (Spurs.com
)
3
Appleman, Jake. "Vindication for Popovich: Spurs Are Playing With Vigor." The New York Times. The New
York Times, 31 Dec. 2012. Web.
W
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