An article in the latest edition of SI called San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich the best in the NBA. It’s hard to argue that claim, especially after reading all the facts the magazine lists as its reasoning:
Pop is the only active coach in the league to win multiple championships, and that’s saying a lot considering he’s won four. The fact there are only four active head coaches in the league who have one championship is astounding, but that’s because Popovich and former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson have won nine of the last 14 combined. Considering Jackson is gone, Popovich has three more rings than any other active coach and the Spurs are currently tied with the Miami Heat for the league’s best record, it’s easy to see why SI picked him as the NBA’s top skipper in 2013. All due respect to the man who easily deserves the award more than any other coach and who should be regarded as one of the best in league history, but that’s not saying much in 2013.
That’s also no knock against SI, but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was ranked No. 5 on the list, which means it certainly isn’t the most prestigious in the world. Again, there aren’t a ton of great options other than Popovich, but Spoelstra isn’t even top 10; a third-grader could coach the Heat to a title.
Naturally, SI also ranked the other two active coaches with rings in the top five: the Boston Celtics‘ Doc Rivers and the Dallas Mavericks‘ Rick Carlisle. Both of those men are also solid choices, but to speak their names in the same breath as Spoelstra’s is an insult to both of them and to speak Popovich’s name in the same breath as any other active NBA coach is beyond an insult to him.
The morale of the story here? The league is in a very sad state. Pop is the only coach in the league left from “the good old days.” He’s the only one who had a dominant defensive team since the turn of the century besides Larry Brown during the short tenure he enjoyed with the Detroit Pistons, who lost to Popovich’s Spurs in the 2005 NBA Finals. Maybe this is just the frustration of an old-school, defensive-minded basketball fan coming out in a surefire Rant, but it’s also the truth.