San Antonio Spurs coach revealed his key to success in a recent press conference: draft Tim Duncan and hope it leads to an NBA Championship.
Gregg Popovich just had the most Gregg Popovich press conference imaginable.
Always reluctant to speak with media, Popvich was even more reluctant to gloat about almost becoming the winningest regular season coach in NBA history.
Popovich isn’t quite there yet, though: he entered the 2021-22 season needing 26 wins to beat the record, and his Spurs are currently 4-11. Still, boasting 1,314 regular season wins is no small feat, as he only sits behind Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson for the top spot.
As the milestone nears, Popovich opted to speak about his decades-long NBA success in a different way: by giving all the glory to Tim Duncan.
Gregg Popovich on historic NBA success: “Draft Tim Duncan. After that, stay alive.”
While Popovich deserves praise for leading the Spurs to five NBA Championship titles, none of that would have been possible without Tim Duncan.
Drafted in 1997, “The Big Fundamental” is widely considered one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. He spent his entire NBA career with the Spurs, retiring in 2016. During his time with Popovich, their Spurs teams remained competitive, winning their first championship in 1999 and their last one in 2014.
The Spurs have seen a precipitous dropoff in success without Duncan on the court. Duncan’s last season with the team ended 67-15, and the following season ended 61-21. Since then, the Spurs’ best season was 48-34 in 2018-19 — hardly the kind of season the Spurs had with Duncan.
But Duncan is still a Spur, as he joined the coaching staff for the 2019-20 season, and still makes frequent appearances with the team.
As Pop goes for his record, Duncan’s exclusive NBA stat shows just how much drafting Duncan in 1997 made a difference in San Antonio. Duncan is the only player in NBA history with 1,000 or more wins with one team.
Popovich deserves praise for his wins, but there’s no questions there would have been less of them without drafting Tim Duncan and staying alive.