It's been a rocky season for the Spurs so far. Narrowly beating the struggling Pacers is not a sign a turnaround is on the horizon but there was something special about this victory nonetheless: with it, Gregg Popovich reached 1,000 regular season wins as a head coach. Pop joins Don Nelson (1,335), Lenny Wilkens (1,332), Jerry Sloan (1,221), Pat Riley (1,210), Phil Jackson (1,155), George Karl (1,131), Larry Brown (1,098) and Rick Adelman (1,042) as only the ninth coach to reach the milestone in NBA history.
Popovich has logged 1,000 wins faster than everyone but Phil Jackson and Pat Riley and is the second coach to have won that many games on a single team behind Jerry Sloan. His win percentage of .684 is the second highest among coaches with 1,000 wins. He can now add the achievement to his three Coach of the Year awards and five championships. Needless to say, Popovich, who was already a lock to make the Hall of Fame, has carved out a place for himself in the "best coach ever" discussion.
"Obviously, you have to be around a while to do that," Pop said of approaching the milestone. "It's not going to happen if you're not in that situation. You've got to have an organization that's allowed you to be there a long time and shown a lot of patience in letting you grow, that kind of thing. Obviously you have to have players that go and win games, because I haven't scored many points or gotten many rebounds that I remember because I wasn't in the league."
While Pop has been as humble as he typically is about individual accolades, it's hard to overstate how much he has meant to the franchise. The way the team has changed under his guidance shows a self-awareness and ability to adjust that even some of the coaches ahead of him in wins have lacked. And with Kawhi Leonard in tow and a five-year extension already signed, Pop could easily move up a couple of spots in the list.