Last night’s victory at Madison Square Garden elevated Gregg Popovich’s win total to 1,176, one more than former Spurs assistant and one-time point guard George Karl. Karl, the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year, amassed his stellar record over a span of 27 seasons with 6 different NBA teams. Unfortunately for Karl, he never won an NBA title.
So there you have it, Pop is solely in the #5 spot. Next on the list- Pat Riley whose coaching accomplishments most closely resemble Coach Pop. 5 Championships and 3 Coach of the Year honors mirror one another. Riley compiled his 1,210 wins over 24 seasons giving Pop the advantage of matching his win total over less time.
If the Spurs go 35-9 to close out the season, Gregg Popovich will pass 3 coaches and move from 7th to 4th in one season. Either way, it is highly likely Pop will pass Riles in less time than it took the former Laker coach to get to the 1,210.
Pop needs 160 more wins to pass Don Nelson (1,335) for the most wins of all time, and only 45 more to pass Jerry Sloan (1,221). Both should be very attainable if Pop has a few more seasons in him.
Of course, humble as ever, Pop gave all of the credit to his players:
Gregg Popovich on passing George Karl for 5th on the NBA's all-time coaching wins list: "I don't remember scoring any points or getting any rebounds" pic.twitter.com/STfNcYHI5g— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) January 3, 2018
No matter how you slice it, Popovich has more wins with one team than any coach in the history of the NBA. His tenure with the Spurs organization has become legendary while still in the midst of consecutive successful seasons. What he has designed cannot be paralleled in any fashion, so wins/loses are just numbers to Pop. His focus is so far beyond the sport that he has elevated the very nature of competition and excellence while making a deeper connection.