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Gregg Popovich officially has the most coaching wins all time but he will be slaughtered by future generations for one key fact

Gregg Popovich officially clinched the spot as the head coach with the most wins in the NBA
Gregg Popovich has officially became the NBA coach with the most wins in league history

Gregg Popovich after his historic win last night

Spurs fans once booed Gregg Popovich during his first-ever game as head coach. It made sense; he was a control freak who fired the head coach from his team executive chair. He only told the players that he was taking over on the bus ride up to the game. Now that man is the All-Time winningest coach in history. But despite the 5 championships in 15 years, Popovich, as slanderous as this sounds today - will be slaughtered by future generations for one key fact.

  1. Gregg Popovich: 1,336 wins
  2. Don Nelson: 1,335 wins
  3. Lenny Wilkins: 1,332
  4. Jerry Sloan: 1,221
  5. Pat Riley: 1,210
  6. George Karl: 1,175
  7. Phil Jackon: 1,155
  8. Larry Brown: 1,098
  9. Rick Adelman: 1,042
  10. Doc Rivers: 1,032

The Godfather

Popovich is maybe the only man in the league above criticism. He can be a dismissive and arrogant prick to beat writers and reporters - who are the backbone of the league - and nobody will say a word. He can cost his team a championship as he did in '13 with a bonehead move (but more on that later), and no one will even flinch a muscle.

For one, it's because 99% of fans and media people don't actually understand the depths of coaching - and hence just follow the public waves that never run rapidly of Pop. Don't get me wrong, anyone can watch a play fumble and then input the obvious alternative pass or movement that should have been made, but that's nowhere near worthy enough the level of masterful criticism for analyzing the coaching of Pop. The second and more fun answer is because Pop is the Godfather. The look, the clothes and the level of respect by everybody.

But here's the kicker: Future fans won't look at Popovich with as much reverence as we do. Kind of like how the Godfather franchise today is undervalued.

What is he without his golden boy?

People will nitpick his lack of success before and after Duncan and chop up his prestige to circumstance. Like how today's fans discredit Bob Cousy for never shooting over 40% or Jerry West for having a 1-8 Finals record. As ridiculous as that notion is, legacies get simplified into memorable facts or milestones as time ticks away from their present generations. Just the way it is. But is it even that bad of an idea?

To think Popovich is only considered great because Tim Duncan was committed to him for nearly 20 years?

It's not like there hasn't been a general manager in history - before and continuing - that wouldn't give up their own house to draft a rookie Tim Duncan. A man who wrote a world-renown leadership thesis as a college recruit and is a top 10 player All-Time by any list. So considering a superstar, Kawhi Leonard left Pop and immediately won. That DeMar DeRozan left Pop and is in the running for MVP honors. If Pop was so great, how come he couldn't win without his golden boy like Phil Jackson did post-Bulls or Pat Riley did post-Lakers?

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This will be the argument handed down through generations. So let this be a future come back to the kids in their flying teslas: This is horsecrap.

A team of instinct

To pinpoint where credit falls away from the crutches of Duncan and on to Popovich, we need to review a team where Mr. Fundamental was long past superstardom. The '13 Spurs would have been a great topic if not for… well, you know. But it can't be excused since Duncan was taken off the floor so Borias Diaw could secure a rebound which doesn't even make sense since Diaw was averaging 6.5 rebounds less a game, but I digress.

Instead, I point to the most well-orchestrated collection of talent in my lifetime - the '14 Spurs. Seven long years after their last title win with a former superstar and a soon-to-be superstar in Kawhi, this was technically a superstar-less team facing a juggernaut, championship-proven Heat squad. Anyone whose seen any clip from this season knows they played the game in a special, hot potato-esk type of way that resulted in 62 wins.

There has never been a championship team other than the '68, '69 Celtics, and the '79 Supersonics where the coach was the most valuable contributor to the team's success. And this team stands at the top of that mountain. For preference, the '16 Cavaliers lie at the bottom of this summit. When you watched them play, it was like taking a bite out of your first fancy overpriced steak. Once you consumed it, you realized everyone else was doing it wrong. It was an instinct.

After they won and Timmy D retired after two more years of walking up and down the court - literally - they forgettably went to the Conference Finals with a new superstar in the Klaw. But then this happened, leading to a very public fight with doctors and players, forcing an even more very public breakup.

Popovich, the control freak and Marlon Brandon impersonator, heard Leonard's request to move to the sunshine coast and sent him instead to Toronto. Classic.

Although the Great Pop didn't exactly get the last laugh.

Although Pop's legendary 22-year playoff record has come to a close, the team has still managed to stay afloat during a competitive rebuild. They now lead the league in assists and are one spot away from a play-in tournament with one fringe All-Star and a group of nobodies. I've asked myself many times if we should hand Popovich his fourth Coach Of The Year honors for how well his team has gone the last three years, but I always knew he won't have the narrative backing him up.

'This just in - Gregg Popovich is really good!'.

After the tragic loss of Popovich's wife nearly four years ago, the anemic but prosperous state of the modern-day Spurs era, and now with nothing else on the table for him to take, Popovich could very well likely retire sooner than later. He's coached more games than anyone ever not named Lenny Wilkins and Don Nelson. And don't let the hair full you, Pop is a whopping 73-years old. In my eyes, he's the undisputed Goat, but there is a solid argument for the Zen Master in Phil. But, regardless of that debate, let us at Basketball Network happily say: He has had a helluva career. 


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