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 play the Detroit Pistons.
Pop’s history of coaching against the mighty Motor City begins with Doug Collins (1995-1998). In his third year as head coach in Detroit, he was fired and replaced by his assistant Alvin Gentry.
Gentry, who kicked off his NBA coaching career as an assistant in San Antonio, finished off the 1998 season and led the Pistons to a 29-21 record in the shortened 1999 lockout season. He started the centennial campaign, but was replaced by George Irvine late in the season.
Irvine stayed on for the 2000-2001 season, but the 32-50 record essentially ended his career.
From 2001-2003, the Pistons employed Rick Carlisle who had back-to-back 50-32 seasons, including Central Division titles and playoff appearances. Additionally, Carlisle was named the 2002 NBA Coach of the Year.
Following Carlisle’s departure, Pop’s mentor Larry Brown stepped in. Brown racked up back-to-back 54-28 seasons with Finals appearances to boot. In 2004, the Pistons defeated an All-Star stacked Laker squad. The following year, Pop faced off against his mentor in the 2005 NBA Finals. The Spurs took the series, but only after utilizing all seven games.
After the two Finals appearances, Brown flirted with changing teams. As a result, the Pistons bought him out and hired Flip Saunders. Saunders stayed three seasons, which up until now, was the most consistency Pop saw from an opposing coach in Detroit.
Flip was followed by Michael Curry (2008-2009) who had played for the Pistons during two stints of his career. Negotiations were being made to bring in Avery Johnson, but talks broke.
Six losing seasons saw a revolving door including John Kuester (2009-2011), Lawrence Frank (2011-2013), Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer (2013-2014); finally ending with the hiring of Stan Van Gundy (2014-2018) where he had one winning season paired with the Pistons first postseason appearance since 2009.
Van Gundy was released from his duties and head coach and president of basketball operations, making room for Dwane Casey.
Casey, fresh off being named the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year and being fired by the Toronto Raptors, moved to Detroit. His five seasons were the longest tenure since Chuck Daly.
The Pistons, in a seemingly never-ending cycle of rebuilding, only made one playoff berth during Casey’s half-decade. This season, he is in the Piston’s front office.
The Pistons are led into tonight’s match by former Spurs player Monty Williams. Williams also served as a staff intern with the Silver & Black during their 2005 Championship season.
The Pistons are 3-33, making them the Spurs best chance for a win.
Go Spurs Go!
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