The American basketball coach who led the San Antonio Spurs to National Basketball Association (NBA) championships in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014 is Gregg Popovich. He has contributed tremendously to the growth of the team and of course, been rewarded for his good works. In addition to coaching the NBA side, Pop coach, as he is popularly known, has since 2015 been serving as the coach of the US men’s national basketball team.
Consequently, the stellar coach has recorded memorable highlights in various key aspects of the NBA, as well as the American national basketball team. Gregg Popovich is still achieving exploits in the field of basketball, recording great stats in all the teams that have enjoyed his coaching prowess.
A Breakdown Of His Journey To The Big League
Born on January 28, 1949, in East Chicago, Indiana, U.S. Gregg Popovich is of Serbian and Croatian descent as he is Croatian on his maternal side and Serbian on the paternal side. The basketball coach got enough encouragement to play the game from his family.
The identities of his parents have been revealed as Katherine Popovich (mother) and Raymond Popovich (father). Both parents were immigrants to the United States of America. No further information is available on his family background, thus, we cannot say whether he is an only child or has siblings.
Gregg Popovich Was Active In Basketball During His Days In The U.S Air Force Academy
Gregg attended the U.S Air Force Academy and there, the emerging coach demonstrated his expertise in the game of basketball. Soon, he became the team’s captain and the highest scorer in most games.
Proceeding to the University of Denver, Gregg bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Soviet Studies, as well as a Masters degree in Physical Education and sports science. Meanwhile, during his days in the military, the sportsman won the Amateur Athletic Union Basketball Championship after he was made the captain of the team. This singular act caught the attention of so many basketball teams and Gregg Popovich gained a spot to train for the 1972 Olympics, but sadly, he didn’t make the cut.
He Later Became An Assistant Coach With The Air Force Academy
In 1973, Gregg Popovich worked as an assistant coach at the Air Force Academy under head coach Hank Egan – a post that spanned for six long years. After bagging a Masters in physical education and sports sciences from the University of Denver, the sportsman became an assistant professor and head basketball coach at Pomona Pitzer College men’s team for eight loyal years between 1979 and 1988.
Under Gregg, the team earned its first outright title in 68 years. While he was still with Pomona-Pitzer, the Chicago native made friends with the then head coach of the University of Kansas – Larry Brown, after which he became a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Kansas under Brown; the next season saw him returning back to Pomona-Pitzer to resume his duties as head coach. Gregg Popovich later rejoined Brown as an assistant with Spurs from 1988 to 99. He also served with the Golden State Warriors as Don Nelson’s assistant briefly in 1992.
Gregg Served The San Antonio Spurs In Varying Capacities
In 1992, he became a staff of the NBA Golden State Warriors but later returned to San Antonio as the executive vice president of basketball operations/general manager in 1994 and 1995. In the following years, he became San Antonio Spurs’ head coach.
Popovich refined the Twin Towers of David Robinson and Tim Duncan who at that time were two of the game’s best post players. Together, they won five NBA championships in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007. The Spurs repeated the win in 2014. Then, Greg Popovich was honoured as the NBA Coach of the Year, an award he has won at least three times in 2003, 2012, and 2014. He was presented with the Red Auerbach Trophy on the 22nd of April 2014.
At the NBA Africa Exhibition game of 2015, Gregg Popovich was called upon to serve as Team Africa’s head coach. On the 13th of April 2019, Gregg became the all-time winningest coach in National Basketball Association history with his 1,413th win (with both regular season and playoffs) surpassing Lenny Wilkens who has held the title for a long while. Gregg took to Instagram to appreciate the team’s fans and coaching staff after the 2019 season.
His Coaching Style And Unique Ability To Manage Players Effectively
One distinct feature about the coach is his ability to refine and manage players effectively. Even after David Robison retired, the Spurs kept on winning lots and lots of games, as well as claiming several championship titles. What he did with the Twin Towers, he replicated with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
As expected, Gregg Popovich in the 2007-2008 season, took his team to a conference final game, unfortunately, they lost to the Los Angeles Parkers. However, the postseason was successful and Spurs’ unbeatable wins gained Greg Popovich the Coach of the Year award that season. In 2015, Greg Popovich was made the head coach of the United States of America’s national basketball team.
Gregg Popovich Is Among The Top-earning Coaches In The NBA
Also known as pop or coach pop, Greg Popovich has succeeded in establishing himself as one of the longest-serving coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association. He has been earning handsomely since the inception of his coaching career and it goes without saying that his earnings enhanced reasonably with the Saint Antonio Spurs of the NBA.
Gregg, through his years as a coach, has undoubtedly contributed tremendously to the progress of the Spurs basketball team. His reward with the team includes his annual take-home of about $8 million. Though he is owed well over $20 million from the Spurs as he is just in the first year of his three-year contract extension, it is believed that Coach Pop is worth at least $40 million.
Gregg Popovich is A One Woman Man
Gregg Popovich is a man known for being married to one woman all his life. The 6 feet 2 inches tall basketball coach was married to Erin Popovich, stayed faithful to her even in death. Sadly, Erin passed on the 18th of April 2018. Her death shook the whole sports world, especially most basketball teams as they couldn’t hide their feelings, flooding the internet with condolences.
Erin who was born in 1951 suffered from an ailment which started sometime in the ’90s. She fought hard and lived with the health challenge for over a decade. Details of Erin’s diagnosis are not readily available; however, sources say she was diagnosed with a disease that affected her lungs. While she was alive, Gregg Popovich’s wife was not one who loved to flaunt her life in front of cameras, she maintained a low key style and neglected most interviews.
Greg Popovich met his late wife during his days at the Air Force Academy; Erin at that time was the daughter of the school athletic trainer; Jim Conboy and was also the friend of the dean’s daughter, Betsy. Greg and Erin later became an item, taking their relationship to the ultimate conclusion of a marriage.
While it lasted, their union spanned over four decades, producing 2 children; a son – Micky and a daughter – Jill. Erin was also privileged to see her two grandchildren before kicking the bucket at the age of 67.