The Popovich-coaching tree extends all throughout the NBA.
SAN ANTONIO — Just one look at the 2022 NBA Playoff field and there was a common thread among a majority of the teams: A link to the San Antonio Spurs, especially among the coaching ranks.
Utah’s Quin Snyder and Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins came from the Spurs’ G League coaching ranks with the Austin Spurs.
Boston’s Ime Udoka and Will Hardy served as assistant coaches with the Spurs as did Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer.
Then there’s Golden State’s Steve Kerr who played in San Antonio helping the team win NBA titles as well as Monty Williams in Phoenix and Doc Rivers in Philadelphia who spent time with Popovich in San Antonio as a player [Rivers] and assistant coach [Williams].
Needless to say, Spurs’ Gregg Popovich’s coaching tree extends far and wide in the league, and NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, thanked the long-time head coach for producing coaching talent and NBA executives.
“Thank you, Gregg Popovich. He practically runs an academy there (San Antonio) for future coaches, and not just coaches but team executives,” Silver said ahead of Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals. “He’s done a fantastic job.”
Popovich’s coaching tree is impressive.
Outside of the NBA Playoff teams, the Pop-coaching tree is seen in Sacramento with new head coach Mike Brown, and Tom Thibodeau with the Knicks.
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So what do coaches learn from Popovich?
Just ask another branch of the coaching tree, Aces’ Becky Hammon, who served as an assistant coach under Popovich before returning to the WNBA.
“Not skipping steps is the most important, especially early on in training camp,” Hammon said. “The biggest point is to lay a great foundation of fundamentals and basics and you start with communication.”
She also added how much she learned to set expectations and hold her players accountable for their jobs just as Popovich does with the Spurs.
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“Now I can hold them accountable and they can start to hold each other accountable because we are very clear on what we are doing out there both offensively and defensively,” Hammon said.
As for NBA executives, the biggest example is the Thunder’s Sam Presti who served with San Antonio and more recently, Sean Marks with the Nets who played with the Spurs.
Popovich will be the first to downplay this saying those who left to become coaches put in the work, learned, and paid their due.
But give credit where credit is due.
Popovich gave them a shot in the league and believed in them just as his mentors Don Nelson and Larry Brown did for him.