NBA

Gregg Popovich gets his milestone 1,000th win with the Spurs

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich won his 1,000th game on Monday night in a 95-93 victory against the Indiana Pacers.

Popovich becomes the ninth coach to reach the milestone and the third fastest to get to the 1,000 mark. Only Phil Jackson and Pat Riley have reached 1,000 wins faster than Popovich. The Spurs coach needed 1,462 games but Jackson (1,423) and Riley (1,434) just beat him to the honour. 

However, it looked like Popovich would have to wait for his famous victory with his side down by 14 with just over five minutes remaining but San Antonio fought their way back into the game and a Marco Belineli mid-range jump shot secured the victory with 2.1 seconds left.

Dream victory

San Antonio had a chance to get the victory on Sunday in Toronto but the Raptors ran out victors delaying the inevitable - something which worked in the favour of Coach Pop.

The win could not have come in a better city than Indiana. Popovich was born in the city as well as playing his high school basketball in Merrillville, Indiana making the triumph more emotional for the 66-year-old.

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“Getting the players is difficult, but I've been fortunate to have good ones. The time, that's the most important element. You have to be around for a while I guess. It’s more a tribute to the players obviously than the coaches,” explained Popovich.

In good company

The Spurs coach has worked with future hall of famers such as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker - all of whom admire Popovich and understand his knowledge of the game can barely be matched. 

"A thousand wins, that's a lot of wins and I feel very lucky that I've been with him for a lot of them," said Parker after the win in Indiana. 

He also had a hand in picking Kawhi Leonard as the 15th overall draft pick in 2011 - an incredible decision considering Leonard has turned into a remarkable player on both ends of the floor as well as picking up the NBA Finals MVP last year. 

Revolutionary management

Coach Pop revolutionised the game of basketball by resting his key players such as Duncan and Parker throughout the season in order to make a big push during play-offs come the end of the season. 

He also installed an un-selfish ball sharing tactic which has proved to work in the league. Pop's ideology is that he does not care who scores the ball, as long as they keep getting wins. In Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, the Spurs have three legends of the game but Popovich does not care whether it is them who is scoring the ball or a rookie they drafted in the second round. 

"I've been here a long time and I've had good players. That's the formula," Popovich said.

The 66-year-old has been head coach of the Spurs since the 1996-97 season winning five NBA titles along the way, with their most recent coming last June after destroying the Miami Heat 4-1 in the finals.

The stats don't lie

From his start at the franchise, the Spurs’ winning percentage of 0.677 is the highest in the league, topping the L.A Lakers (0.621), Dallas Mavericks (0.597) and Miami Heat (0.581).

Popovich also joins Utah’s Jerry Sloan as the only coaches to win 1,000 games with a single franchise. Sloan won 1,127 games during his time at the Jazz. Both are incredible achievements and they will be in their own select company for years to come. 

Not only is he one of the best coaches ever to grace the NBA, his dry sense of humour is also to be enjoyed throughout the league as fans watch on as he gives journalists a tough time for asking questions the Spurs coach does not like.

Popovich has guided the Spurs to 17 consecutive play-off appearances and his current record of 1,000 wins and 462 losses shows his class as the head coach of the franchise. His milestone was met with admiration and congratulations from everyone involved with the league. 

Topics:
NBA
San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Tony Parker

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