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 New York Knicks, the last hurdle in their 1999 NBA Championships.
Speaking of the 1999 Finals, the first head coach Pop faced from the Big Apple was Jeff Van Gundy who served from 1996 to the beginning of the 2001-2002 season when he resigned nineteen games into the season.
Van Gundy’s assistant Don Chaney finished out the 2001-2002 and stayed on for 2002-2003, but was fired after a lackluster 15-24 start to the 2003-2004 season.
He was replaced for one game by Herb Williams, but Pop coached against Lenny Wilkins in the Spurs second matchup against the Knicks.
In the 2004-2005 Pop beat Wilkins, who resigned halfway through the season and was replaced by Herb Williams, who beat Pop and the Spurs late in the season.
In the 2005-2006 season, Pop faced off with Larry Brown who he’d just beaten in the Finals when Brown was with the Pistons. Brown’s lone year in New York was marred with conflict and he was fired at the end of the losing effort and was replaced by Isiah Thomas who led the Knicks to back-to-back losing seasons.
Thomas was replaced by Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni stuck around for four years, leading the Knicks to the playoffs in 2011, their first trip into the postseason in seven seasons.
He resigned mid-season leaving assistant coach Mike Woodson at the helm. Woodson had a remarkable 54-28 season making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Unfortunately, the next season there was a seventeen-games swing ending with a losing record and no hope of postseason play ending Woodson’s time in New York.
The next six seasons exposed holes in the Knicks front office as five different coaches traded out in hopes of turning around the fate of the Knickerbockers. Derek Fisher lasted a season and a half before being fired and replaced by interim coach Kurt Rambis (Pop did not face Rambis during that season).
Jeff Hornacek took over the next two seasons, followed by David “Take That for Data” Fizdale. Fiz, like Fisher made it a season-and-a-half before being fired. Fizdale was replaced by assistant coach Mike Miller. Pop met Fizdale twice early on, beating the Knicks both times and adding to the 4-18 demise of Fizdale’s head coaching days with New York.
Ever since 2020, the Knicks have had Tom Thibodeau as their head coach. This is the twelfth head coach with whom Pop has jousted. They have a 3-4 record coming into to tonight’s game, same as the Spurs, so someone’s truly coming out ahead at the end of this game.
Let’s see if the Spurs-bounce-back-after-embarrassing-loss thing was a fluke or not.
Go Spurs Go!
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