History was made Friday night in the NBA. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reached 1,336 wins in his career to become the winningest head coach in NBA history as the Spurs defeated the Jazz 104-102 at AT&T Center.
Pop passed Don Nelson (1,335 wins), who had held the record since 2010. After starting his career with the Spurs as an assistant coach from 1988-92, Popovich went to the Golden State Warriors for two seasons as an assistant coach under Nelson.
“Something like this does not belong to one individual,” Popovich said postgame. “Basketball’s a team sport. You preach to your players that they have to do it together, and that’s certainly been the case in my life with all the wonderful players and coaches, the staff that I’ve been blessed with, the support of this wonderful city.”
After the win, the team tried to celebrate with Pop, but he wanted no parts. Actually, the players might have to pay for that celebration.
“Yes, they know how much I enjoy that sort of thing,” Popovich said playfully. “And I’m gonna bring them all in and have them run suicides before the game tomorrow.”
Popovich has led the Spurs to five NBA Championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014) and has the third-most playoff wins in league history (170) and the record for most consecutive winning regular seasons with 23 in a row from 1997-2019.
A three-time NBA Coach of the Year in 2003, 2012, and 2014, Popovich is in year 26 with the Spurs, and he’s the longest-tenured active coach in all four U.S. major sports leagues.
Internationally, Popovich served as head coach of the USA Basketball Senior Men’s National Team from 2017- 20 and led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics.
It was a great night for San Antonio and a great night for Popovich.