With the first round of the NBA Playoffs in full swing, the league’s regular season awards are beginning to make their way around the NBA. One of the most coveted awards in the league, outside of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy (MVP) is the Coach of the Year Award, given to the coach who has typically led their team to either the best regular season record or has had his team show the most growth from one season to the next. This season’s winner is none other than San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Coach Popovich receiving the COY Award should be no surprise to anyone. Not only did his Spurs have the best record in an extremely competitive Western Conference, but they also had the best record in the entire NBA. What makes this award so substantial for Popovich is that he has won it two times over the last three years, joining legendary coaches Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only head coaches in NBA history to win the award three times. Marco Belinelli told USA TODAY:
“He’s a gentleman, everybody knows that he’s the best coach in the league. So to say that is not really important. But maybe some people, they don’t know he’s really a great guy, a great gentleman. He really helps guys, helps each other. He wants to help everybody. Great person.”
Looking at coach Pop’s track record over the last few years, it is hard to argue why he isn’t the best coach in the NBA. The Spurs’ franchise has won at least 50 games in 15 consecutive seasons, and four of those seasons included 60+ win records. The system that Popovich put into place in San Antonio has paid dividends for the franchise, including three NBA championships with his current core group of players (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker).
Popovich ended up with 59-first place votes and 380 total points, followed closely by Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, who garnered 37-first place votes and finished second. The voting differential alone proves Popovich’s dominance over the rest of the coaches in the league. The Spurs are hoping Popovich’s dominance helps bring home a sixth NBA Championship to the franchise, but nothing is ever guaranteed.