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Gregg Popovich’s legacy is everywhere, even in the NBA Finals

It goes without saying that great coaches produce great players and the best assistants. But in his career Gregg Popovich took this to a whole new level. Whether the San Antonio Spurs are playing or not, there’s a bit of Pop pretty much everywhere in the league. His legacy is simply colossal.

Popovich Academy coaches

An abnormally high number of coaches currently in place learned their skills with Popovich. Mike BudenholzerBucks coach and NBA champion in 2021, for example spent 17 years assisting him before landing his first freelance job as head coach. Monty Williamswho faced him in the Finals with the Suns, spent three years playing under Pop.

Recently signed by the Kings, mike brown served three seasons in San Antonio as an assistant. Taylor JenkinsGrizzlies coach, coached G League side Spurs. Ime Udoka and Steve Kerrwho heads the Celtics and Warriors, also has a connection to Popovich in some way.

Others are no longer in office, but have still managed to make a name for themselves on the staff of San Antonio. James Borrego, Jim Boylen, Brett Brown, Joe Prunty and Jacques Vaughn are all disciples who recently held the reins of a team. The most telling example is undoubtedly Quin Snyder, who has just left the Jazz and who is rightly tipped to take over at Spurs. There are only 30 head coach spots in the best league in the world, and Popovich’s descendants fill a lot of them.

“Thank you, Gregg Popovich. It’s practically an academy for future coaches that he runs in San Antonio. And not just coaches, managers too. He’s done a fantastic job.”pointed out Adam Silver, during his press conference.

It is also quite amusing to see that those who were trained by Popovich in turn train the future coaches of the NBA. Darvin Hamthe new coach of the Lakers, for example spent 9 years with Budenholzer, who also had Jenkins on his staff. Willie Green started as an assistant to Kerr, then Williams, before being offered his position at the Pelicans.

It will no doubt be very interesting, in the next 20 to 30 years, to recompose the “coaching tree” of the league’s coaches. Many of them should have at least an indirect connection with Gregg Popovich. His academy success also adds another dimension to his own legend.

Steve Kerr and Ime Udoka, the first of the class in 2022

As the Warriors and Celtics face off in the NBA Finals, Pop is still there. The finalist teams are coached by two former students: Steve Kerr and Ime Udoka.

Before embarking on coaching, Kerr played for the Spurs from 1996 to 2003. He also won two rings with San Antonio before retiring as a player. Last summer, he also coached under Gregg Popovich at the Tokyo Olympics. But the back, now, has above all created its own dynasty.

The game of Golden State, which has won three titles and played in six NBA Finals since 2015, is very much modeled on that of the Spurs. The fluid passing game, the movement without the ball… we find the “beautiful basketball” when we watch the Warriors. Kerr has also drawn inspiration from other styles and evolved a lot over the course of his career, but the legacy is still evident.

Ime Udoka had a similar journey. He has spent three of his last four seasons as a player under Popovich. He then joined his coaching staff for seven years, during which he helped secure a title in 2014.

With Boston, it is above all in his management that he seems to imitate his teacher. He completely transformed the way the dressing room works this year. It is also found in the game and it is all the more true when Derrick Whitetransferred from Spurs during the season, is on the field.

The 2022 NBA champion will therefore be a disciple of Popovich. But that’s actually nothing surprising. In the last 10 years, there has only been one in which one of the finalists was not a student…or himself, for that matter.

  • 2013: himself
  • 2014 : himself
  • 2015 : Steve Kerr (Warriors)
  • 2016: Steve Kerr (Warriors)
  • 2017: Steve Kerr (Warriors)
  • 2018: Steve Kerr (Warriors)
  • 2019: Steve Kerr (Warriors)
  • 2020:
  • 2021: Monty Williams (Suns), Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
  • 2022: Steve Kerr (Warriors), Ime Udoka (Celtics)

Gregg Popovich is the winningest coach in NBA history. With his own team, he built a dynasty that won five titles. But his success is not limited to that, it extends through his heirs. From 1996 to today, he left his mark on the league and is not ready to stop.

Gregg Popovich, the story of his unparalleled generosity

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