As mentioned previously, an article entitled “Pop’s Incredible Longevity” revealed that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has coached against 307 different NBA coaches during his twenty-eight year tenure at the helm.
Since the firing of Bob Hill in 1996, Pop has consistently coached the Spurs, give or take an ejection or two. Tonight the Spurs face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
From a purely Pop standpoint, the T-Wolves history starts with head coach Flip Saunders and superstar Kevin Garnett. Garnett was the irritating, grumpy antithesis to Tim Duncan.
Minnesota originated as an NBA town with the Lakers (c’mon, there are no lakes of mention in Southern California) from 1947-1960, but did not have another team until 1989.
Before Flip and Garnett, Minnesota never made the playoffs. But in Saunders first full season, the Timberwolves began and eight-year run into the playoffs. After a disappointing 25-26 start to the 2005-2006 season, Kevin McHale fired Saunders and took over. McHale would battle Pop from a head coaching spot in Houston as well (a different list for another day).
Dwane Casey, who has already appeared as a coach Pop has challenged, took over in 2005 but was only there a year-and-a-half before McHale fired him and replaced Casey with assistant coach Randy Wittman. Wittman previously coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, where Popovich had met him before.
From 2009-2011, the T-Wolves had Kurt Rambis, who had two abysmal seasons in Minnesota before being fired.
His successor was Rick Adelman, who Pop had combatted with year after year during Adelman’s time in Golden State, Sacramento, and Houston.
If it’s starting to seem like Pop may have already coached against everyone already, well then the return of Flip Saunders in 2014 should come as no surprise. Flip only stayed one season on this second trip to the north.
he was replaced by Sam Mitchell (who Pop faced in Toronto), then Tom Thibodeau (who Pop faced earlier this week).
Thibs was fired after two-and-a-half seasons and was replaced by assistant coach Ryan Saunders, son of Flip Saunders.
The junior Saunders was unable to right the ship and the T-Wolves saw no postseason during his tenure.
Since 2021, Chris Finch has been in charge, and with the addition of Anthony Edwards, Minnesota has been making their way into the playoffs.
Okay, lots of names here, but some have already become repeats. I might need a spread sheet.
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