By Tyler Leli @jetleli on April 22, 2014
On Tuesday afternoon it was announced that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is the winner of the 2014 NBA Coach of the Year Award. Popovich narrowly won the award over Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, which disappointed a few people. With this in mind, I have identified five reasons why Popovich deserved to be named NBA Coach of the Year.
Every year there is a big discussion as to whether the trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will stay healthy, and every year Popovich finds a way to make it happen. This year none of the players appeared in more than 74 games or averaged more than 30 minutes; in fact no single player on the roster topped 30 minutes per game. This would hurt some teams, but the Spurs won 62 games and are set for a long playoff run.
The Spurs finished with a 62-20 record, which gave them a three game advantage over the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second best record in the Western Conference and the NBA as a whole. Sure, winning doesn't mean everything when it comes to being the best coach, but it certainly helps and likely earned Popovich more than a share of first place votes.
With Duncan, Ginobili and Parker all limited in minutes and games played, Popovich had to nurture the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Marco Belinelli, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills to succeed night in and night out. Sure, Popovich can't play the game for these players, but he knows how to press the buttons of his players and gets the best out of everyone on the Spurs every game.
The Spurs lost a devastating NBA Finals series in seven games to the Miami Heat last spring, and some questioned whether the team would get over the emotional burden of that loss. Popovich made sure this didn't happen, though, as his mix of man management, minute management and overall presence helped San Antonio get over a loss that could have sent other organizations into the abyss.
Popovich has long been hassled for his boring interviews and propensity to sit players during nationally televised regular season games, but the guy has a method behind his madness. No coach is more detached from the economical side of the game than Popovich, which is actually a great thing for a head coach. Through thick and thin the guy does what is right for the Spurs, and that is why he is the NBA Coach of the Year.
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