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 Sacramento Kings.
Garry St. Jean has been with the Kings since 1992 when Pop came on the scene. Pop gave the Kings an inaugural 20-point drubbing in their first match-up but lost to St. Jean three weeks later. St. Jean was fired and replaced by assistant Eddie Jordan.
Jordan’s first game as an NBA head coach was against Popovich, and he won. He repeated a few weeks later just before the end of the season.
Rick Adelman, who has already made an appearance on this list, coached the Kings from 1998-2006. These were good years for the Kings as they made the post season each year.
Eric Musselman’s lone season as head coach during the 2006-2007 season yielded 4 losses to the Spurs. Musselman will appear on this list again when we talk about the Golden State Warriors.
Originally hired by the Maloof brothers on a three-year contract, Reggie Theus’ first season ended with a 38-44 record. He was first the next season after a 6-18 start, leaving assistant coach Kenny Natt at the helm.
An assistant in the NBA since 1996, Kenny Natt was assigned as interim head coach after Theus firing and knocked out an 11-47 record before leaving the NBA. He was unable to beat Pop in their two head-to-head match-ups.
Paul Westphal, who’s also been mentioned in a previous post, was with the Kings from 2009-2011 when he was unceremoniously fired after a 2-5 start at the top of the 2011-2012 season.
Assistant coach Keith Smart took over in early January after Westphal was released. Smart finished out the season and had the entire next season where the Kings went 24-58. He was subsequently fired at the end of the season.
The league’s reigning champion head coach Michael Malone got his first leading assignment with the Kings in 2013. He was ousted after an 11-13 start to the 2014-2015 season.
Tyrone Corbin was made the interim but did not stay on long enough to coach against the Spurs.
George Karl, who started his coaching career as an assistant with the Spurs, faced Pop numerous times throughout his illustrious career. Karl’s last head coaching position was with the Kings. He finished out the 2-14-15 season and stayed on one more year before being fired just one game shy of coaching this 2,000th game.
Dave Joerger and Pop have previously met while the former was the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. Joerger is currently in Phoenix as an assistant.
Luke Walton also met Pop before joining the Kings as he took over in Sacramento in 2019 after parting ways with the Lakers. Walton has back-to-back 31-41 season in California’s capital. He was fired after a 6-11 start to the 2021-2022 season.
Alvin Gentry stepped in for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season. Pop and Alvin have a long career as opponents going back to 1997. Gentry has been the head coach of the Pistons, Clippers, Suns, and Pelicans before taking over in Sacramento. This was his last coaching job.
Mike Brown, the current coach, lost in the 2007 NBA Finals to Pop and the Spurs when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers (and a young LeBron James). He has since served as head coach of Lakers as well as a second stint in Cleveland before joining Steve Kerr in Golden State as an assistant. This is his second year with the vastly improving Kings. Under Brown, they made the postseason for the first time since Rick Adelman’s final season in 2006.
For those counting, that’s fourteen opposing coaching in 28 seasons. Looks like the Kings need some consistency, and a truckload of whatever drinking water Rick Adelman was serving his players at the turn of the century.
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