After starting his NBA coaching career as a Spurs assistant under Larry Brown, Gregg Popovich now joins Brown as only one of nine head coaches in NBA history to reach 1,000 wins, after a 95-93 road victory over the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 9.
"Not too much celebrating," Popovich said. "I've been here a long time and I've had good players. That's the formula. Getting the players is difficult, but I've been fortunate to have good ones. The time — that's the most important element. You have to be around for awhile. It's more a tribute to (the players) obviously than any coaches."
Popovich has arguably become one of the best coaches in all professional sports. In his 19-year career as the Spurs’ head coach, he stands as the longest tenured active coach in the four major U.S. sports. He joins Jerry Sloan, who coaches Utah, as the only coaches to win 1,000 games with the same team. And out of the nine NBA coaches in the 1,000 win club, Popovich holds the second highest winning percentage, .684, only behind Phil Jackson’s .704.
Besides revolutionizing the way the Spurs play and influencing many coaches and management around the league — Steve Kerr, Mike Budenholzer, Brett Brown, Danny Ferry, Monty Williams and many more — Popovich’s accolades speak volumes of his success as the Spurs head coach. He has been named coach of the year three times — 2003, 2012, 2014 — and has led the Spurs to the playoffs 17 straight seasons. He has had 16 seasons of at least 50 wins, four of 60 or more and has won the NBA Championship five times — 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014 — in six trips to the Finals.
His consistency has made the Spurs one of the top model franchises in all of sports. He has coached Hall of Famer David Robinson, and soon-to-be Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, or “the Big Three.”
“I’m happy for Pop,” Parker said. “I feel lucky to have been with him for a lot of those wins. We’ve experienced so much together, the Big Three and Pop, we’ve had a lot of fun. I’m so happy for him.”
We can always count on Ginobili to do something out of the ordinary: “For me it’s not 1,000. It’s 1,149,” Ginobili said. “I just checked. I have no idea why they don’t count the playoffs, which are more valuable. They should count double.
“Regardless, it’s incredible. A thousand games is such an incredible milestone. I am happy for him.”
Popovich reached 1,000 wins in his 1,462nd game; that is the third fastest only behind Jackson (1,423) and Pat Riley (1,434).