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Happy birthday, Gregg Popovich

The Spurs leader enjoys a well-deserved day to himself.

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Back-to-back games, a flight from San Antonio to Chicago in between, and then turn right back around to be back in time to host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.

Odds are the Spurs are taking a day off, and that’s a good thing. Because today is Gregg Popovich’s birthday. That’s right, Pop is celebrating his 71st birthday. Probably sitting at home reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer, enjoying a bottle of A to Z, or listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. Perhaps he’s enjoying a stroll through a museum.

Whatever the case, let’s take a moment and reflect on the most celebrated head coach in Spurs history. The man who took an uncomfortable situation in 1996 and made it even more uncomfortable before unleashing his genius, drafting Tim Duncan and creating the greatest love story in basketball history, changing the game by bringing in international players and shaping a franchise into a modern-day blueprint of success.

Five NBA Championships. Three NBA Coach of the Year awards. Head coach of the U.S. men’s national team. The man has accolades beyond wins and losses.

He has a great sense of humor, one that can be seen on the sidelines as well as in the retirements of his Big 3 players.

Pop takes a moment at the end of each game to greet any and all players and coaches from the opposing team. The respect is off the charts, mutually. And for good reason, so many players and coaches have passed through San Antonio during Pop’s tenure. He’s responsible on multiple levels for the game of basketball on a global level, as well as in the NBA.

Unfortunately, this season has possibly been Popovich’s toughest since taking the reins in that injury-plagued season. He’s navigated some rough waters and taken a lot of flack from the armchair coaches and sports pundits who’ve never held the position at the highest level. The man who made the Spurs an international sensation deserves much better, do you think?

But enough of that.

Happy birthday, Pop! Enjoy a day off, it’s all yours.

We’ll be here to question your every move again . . . tomorrow.

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