Despite the Game 7 Loss, Lets Appreciate Coach Popovich

The narrative coming into the 2018-19 season was this is the year that the Spurs two decade plus dynasty was supposed to crumble. Kawhi Leonard is playing in Toronto, Tony Parker is playing in those ugly turquoise Charlotte Hornets jerseys, while Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili enjoy their retirement. Things only got worse for the Spurs as their young promising point guard of the future, Dejonte Murray went down with a torn ACL before the season began. Once the season began, Coach Gregg Popovich had his work cut put for him. Aside from LaMarcus Aldridge and the then newly acquired DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs rotation was nothing special. Popovich often ran out a 9-10 man rotation featuring a combination of unproven kids and veterans past their prime. At times the Spurs would have multiple players on the floor which casual fans would not know without a quick wikipedia search. This time it really was the end of the Spurs, something we have heard for the better part of the a decade. Yeah well we know how that narrative ends. The Gregg Popovich led Spurs won 48 games in the brutal Western Conference, they made the playoffs for a record 22 straight seasons, and pushed the No.2 Seed Denver Nuggets to 7 games.


Just how did Popovich pull this one off? Well the way he always has, by getting the most out of his players, even the ones you never even heard of. Which leads us to Game 3 in San Antonio, where Derrick White dropped 36 points on 71.4% shooting to stun the 2 seed Denver Nuggets. If you’re asking “Who the hell is Derrick White?” you’re alone. Those who are not diehard hoopers, nerds for the sport, or Spurs fans, chance are you had no idea who Derrick White was prior to this playoff series. The Division II guard was selected by the Spurs with the 29th pick of the 2017 draft. He joins the long list of players drafted and developed by Popovich that have come out of nowhere and become impact players.

Derrick White and Coach Popovich

But the Spurs success spanning two decades has been more than just Tim Duncan and late round draft picks. The Spurs, in particular Gregg Popovich have adjusted to the times. Whether it be an overhaul of the roster, or moving towards the three point game, Popovich has managed to coach his team to the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons. Just take a look at this season. Popovich changed the game plan completely away from the three point game, to the more conventional post game to play to the strengths of his two best players, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar Derozan. And boy did playing to those strengths pay dividends in Game 6 on the road in Denver. Aldridge and DeRozan combined for 51 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists, to extend the series. However it was those same star players who failed to get it going until late in the Game 7 loss, marking the end of the Spurs season.

Coming off a tough Game 7 loss isn’t the ideal time for an appreciation post for Coach Popovich, but if you know anything about Coach Popovich, you know winning and losing basketball games is not the most important thing. So why don’t we take a step back to appreciate Coach Popovich for leading this team with roster deficiencies, and limited talent, to 48 wins in the brutal Western Conference, and almost upsetting the 2 Seed Denver Nuggets. So let’s appreciate Coach Pop while he is still in the league winning games and brining people of different races and cultures together. Because some time soon, we will no longer have the honor of watching Popovich in the huddle drawing up plays, or giving his brief yet entertaining court-side interviews, or hear his intellectual thoughts on both basketball and social issues.

Leave a Reply