In keeping with the tradition that many of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s earliest assistant coaches came from within his own personal network, today we introduce Joe Prunty.
Prunty served with Pop on the Spurs bench from 1996 to 2005, picking up three NBA Championships during his tenure. But Prunty actually started as the Spurs assistant video coordinator after Hank Egan recommended he look into a position on the staff in 1996 and worked his way up, which has been seen more than once during Pop’s career.
Before heading to Texas, Joe Prunty knew Hank Egan because Prunty was selling Anheuser-Busch products in San Diego while Egan was head coach of the Toreros. It was Egan’s mention that sent the then high school basketball coach to Texas.
A promotion from videography propelled Prunty to the bench as an assistant in 2000. He joined Pop, Egan, Mike Budenholzer, and the newly hired Mike Brown as the Spurs made their push to repeat the success of 1999.
At the end of the 2005 season (and the Spurs third title), Prunty left San Antonio to join Avery Johnson in Dallas. The Little General had been named the head coach of the Mavericks and hired Prunty as part of his staff. When Johnson was fired in 2008, Prunty left Dallas and made his way to Portland as the Trail Blazers’ new assistant coach. In 2008 and 2009, Joe Prunty was head coach of Portland’s Summer League squads.
As former co-worker Mike Brown was leaving Cleveland in 2010, Prunty was claiming his seat on the sidelines beside newly appointed Byron Scott. Three years with the Cavaliers got him the attention of Jason Kidd who was transitioning to head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
Before Joe made it to Brooklyn, he went overseas and coached the men’s national basketball team for Great Britain. He coached there in between his NBA seasons until 2017 when the World Cup and Olympics conflicted with the NBA and he was forced to step down.
Prunty served as acting head coach for the first two games while Kidd served a suspension. After all of Kidd’s association with the Nets, he only lasted one season before leaving Brooklyn. Kidd ended up in Milwaukee, taking Joe Prunty with him. During Kidd’s hip surgery, Joe again took the helm as interim head coach accumulating an 8-9 record.
In 2018, Jason Kidd was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks and Joe Prunty became the interim coach for the remainder of the season until he was replaced by former Spurs co-worker Coach Bud, who is still running the Bucks as we speak.
Prunty then joined the Phoenix Suns as their leading assistant coach, but was released in April 2019, following the firing of head coach Igor Kokoškov.
Most recently, Prunty was head coach of the February 2021 USA Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying team.
Under Prunty, USA defeated the Bahamas and Mexico during the games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The two wins improved the USA’s qualifying record to 6-0 and earned the Americans a qualifying berth for the FIBA AmeriCup 2022.
Next up: Mike Brown
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