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Gregg Popovich passes Larry Brown in Top 5 games coached

Larry-Brown-Gregg-Popovich

Jaylen Brown might have fumbled the game-winning layup against the San Antonio Spurs last week, leading Keldon Johnson to run from the bench and hug the fazed Brown like a parent who just found their missing kid - but he also saved Gregg Popovich by allowing him to celebrate his 2000th career coached game. 

After a hard-fought battle with a part-time Kyrie Irving invested Nets, Gregg Popovich matched the prestigious Larry Brown for 5th most games coached.

That list now reads like this:

  1. Lenny Wilkens: 2,487 GC 
  2. Don Nelson: 2,398 GC
  3. Bill Fitch: 2,050 GC
  4. Jerry Sloan: 2,024 GC
  5. Gregg Popovich and Larry Brown (tied): 2,002 GC
  6. George Karl: 1,999 GC
  7. Dick Motta: 1,952 GC
  8. Pat Riley: 1,904 GC
  9. Rick Adelman: 1,791 GC
  10. Doc Rivers: 1,735 

*GC: Games Coached

For the players, we idolize those select few who scored more points than anyone else in history. Kareem, Malone, LeBron, Bryant, Jordan - their faces forever carved on the central podium that we behold for the best of the best within our hierarchal imagination. But while the coaches don't share the same spotlight, games coached is a good statistical metric to sketch out that podium. But it's not the best... 

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While 'games coached' highlights those competent enough to be given opportunities year after year - spanning over decades - it doesn't necessarily epitomize the best. For example, Lenny Wilkens stands at the peak of that mountain but finished his career with a 53.6% winning percentage during the regular season and 44.9 through playoffs. One championship, one Coach Of The Year across six different teams, that's not exactly goated.

Instead, this is the best metric for value as a coach;

Most wins as a Head Coach:

  1. Don Nelson: 1,335 GW
  2. Lenny Wilkens: 1,332 GW
  3. Gregg Popovich: 1325 GW
  4. Jerry Sloan: 1,221 GW
  5. Pat Riley: 1,210 GW
  6. George Karl: 1,175 GW
  7. Phil Jackson: 1,155 GW
  8. Larry Brown: 1,098 GW
  9. Rick Adelman: 1,042 GW
  10. Doc Rivers: 1,013 GW

*Game Won As Coach

Gregg Popovich is less than 10 wins away from the All-Time record. That's what I call the greatest statistical metric of coaching greatness. But like with judging anything major through one lens, it doesn't tell the whole story. Admittedly, Gregg Popovich hit the jackpot when the Spurs drafted the most coachable superstar in history with Tim Duncan. Through Mr. Fundamental's grace and humility paired with an unbreakable bond with his coach, Popovich was allowed full reign to unleash on Duncan when he felt necessary - setting a standard that was naturally forced upon every other player, regardless of on-court value. 

But while having Duncan was a once-in-a-million type lucky as his mere presence fostered a tremendous winning culture, Popovich's Spurs were much more than their franchise star and ethos. Best encapsulated through the '14 Spurs, which are to this day, the most incredible coached team in my lifetime. Or even the post-Duncan Spurs, who continue to impressively overachieve each year with rosters that would seem to plummet as a default mechanism if not for outstanding coaching. Popovich remains the X-Factor. 

But there will be a much deeper piece on his impact when he eventually hits that milestone of 'Most Winningest Coach In History' this season. But for now, all you can do is admire him because this could be his last season to do so. 

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