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Looking back at Pop’s opposing head coaches- Celtics edition

Two former Spurs players have faced off against their former coach

San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics

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 close out 2023 at home against the Boston Celtics.

M. L. Carr (1995-1997) only coached for two seasons, but he was tied to the Boston over six seasons and two championships during the 80s heyday of the Celtics. He ended his second year with the Celtics worst single-season record.

Rick Pitino took over but could not get the Celtics back to their glory days. In the middle of his fourth season, he was replaced assistant coach Jim O’Brien midway through 2000-2001 season.

O’Brien led the Celtics to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons but resigned after fighting with Danny Ainge over goal-setting timelines, leaving assistant John Carroll to finish out the 2003-2004 season.

Former San Antonio Spurs point guard Doc Rivers took over for the next nine seasons winning the 2008 NBA Finals with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Pop and Rivers have faced off multiple times over the years and have always shared a mutual respect for one another.

At the end of the 2013-2014 season, Boston traded Pierce and Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets in an all-in approach that became an NBA cautionary tale. Meanwhile, Rivers was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for the 2015 draft pick that became R. J. Hunter. Butler University coach Brad Stevens was brought in as his replacement. He coached for eight seasons, improving the record each year, peaking in his fifth. After his eighth season, he replaced the retiring Danny Ainge as president of basketball operations.

Former Spurs player and assistant coach Ime Udoka took over for the 2021-2022 season and led the Cetlics to the Finals where they lost to the Golden State Warriors. Udoka was suspended the following season by the Celtics organization. He is currently with the Houston Rockets.

Udoka was replaced by assistant Joe Mazzulla, who is the current coach.

Celtics guard Derrick White is having a banner year, so his homecoming may be the highlight of what may be a rough ending to 2023 for the Spurs.

It’s New Year’s Eve and the Spurs are playing an early one at home. Let’s kick off the celebration with a surprise victory. The worst in the West and the best in the East.

Go Spurs Go!


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