Basketball is a strange thing.
Don Nelson has long been the winningest regular season coach in NBA history. Last night, Gregg Popovich claimed those honors.
It’s not like two were strangers. They go way back.
Professionally speaking, Gregg Popovich’s NBA career is entirely embedded in Spurs culture...save two seasons with the Golden State Warriors.
Pop started as an assistant coach in San Antonio in 1988 when Larry Brown took over the Spurs head coaching spot. R. C. Buford and Alvin Gentry were also on that assistant coaching staff. Talk about relationships. Pop was with Brown and the Spurs for four seasons.
Then Pop went to Golden State to assist under Don Nelson.
Nelson started as an assistant coach in Milwaukee in 1977 but was made head coach half way through the season. He remained a head coach every year — with the exception of 2005-2006 — until 2010. Thirty-two seasons of head coaching.
Eleven with the aforementioned Milwaukee Bucks. Another eleven over two stints with the Golden State Warriors. Eight with the Dallas Mavericks. And one in New York with the Knicks.
And in his thirty-two seasons, Don Nelson amassed 1,335 regular season wins.
Pop matched his former mentor in just twenty-six seasons. And all with one team. And then last night against the Utah Jazz, Pop surpassed his one-time mentor.
And it doesn’t hurt that the Spurs came from behind in the 4th quarter to claim the victory. That’s the first time this season they have been able to do so.
And it was Becky Hammon’s birthday. And David Robinson spoke last night after the game on Faith and Family as part of a Spurs event. It’s like all the planets aligned.
Congratulations, Pop. Don’t care if you care, because we care. So you can act like it’s not a big deal, but it is. And for many years to come (and possibly many lifetimes) your name will be at the top of this illustrious list of coaching achievements.
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