Gregg Popovich becomes winningest coach in NBA history


Since Popovich has coached in several dramatic games, the Spurs fittingly kept things close down the stretch. Josh Richardson hit one free throw with 14.2 seconds left to make it a two-point game but missed the second, but Keldon Johnson scooped up the clutch offensive board. He went to the line and knocked them both down, putting San Antonio up 101-97.

Utah wasn’t ready to give up, though, as Donovan Mitchell’s bucket with 5.9 seconds left brought it back to a two-point game. Dejounte Murray hit two free throws a moment later, but former Spur Rudy Gay knocked down a three to make it a one-point lead. With one second left, Murray went to the free-throw line again, missing the first but hitting the second. Mitchell then turned it over with 0.3 seconds left as the Spurs inbounded and let the clock run out to seal Popovich’s record-setting win.

Popovich’s coaching career began at his alma mater Air Force, where he was an assistant from 1973-79. He then was the head coach at Pomona-Pitzer for two stints from 1979-88, separated by one year as an assistant at Kansas from 1986-87. He came to the NBA in 1988 with the Spurs, then left for the Warriors from 1992-1994.

In 1994, San Antonio named Popovich its general manager and vice president of basketball operations. Near the beginning of the 1996-97 season, Popovich fired head coach Bob Hill and stepped into the position himself. It turned out to be a pretty good decision.

Over 26 seasons as head coach, Popovich has led the Spurs to five NBA championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014) and been named NBA Coach of the Year three times (2003, 2012, 2014) in addition to winning a gold medal with Team USA in 2020. In 2017, he earned his 1,128th victory with the Spurs, giving him the most wins with one franchise in NBA history and setting the stage for the all-time overall record.

As pointed out by StatMuse, Popovich has more wins than six NBA franchises: the Magic, Hornets, Timberwolves, Raptors, Grizzlies and Pelicans.


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