San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich won his second NBA Coach of the Year award Tuesday, edging Chicago's Tom Thibodeau and Indiana's Frank Vogel for the honor.
Popovich, who also earned the award in 2002-03, totaled 467 points, including 77 first-place votes, from a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The award was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.
In his 16th season as head coach of the Spurs, Popovich guided San Antonio to a league-tying-best 50-16 (.758) record.
With Popovich at the helm, the Spurs ranked second in the league in scoring (103.7 ppg) and point-differential (+7.2).
After a shaky 12-9 start, Popovich was able to lead San Antonio to a league best 26-6 (.813) record while averaging league highs in scoring (108.3 ppg) and point-differential (+10.8), in the second half of the season.
Popovich guided the Spurs to their 15th consecutive postseason berth, which is the longest active streak in the NBA.
The Spurs finished the season winning 10 straight games, 24 of their last 27 and 38 of their last 45. San Antonio won at least 50 games for the 13th consecutive season – all under Popovich’s tenure – surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers (1979-80 to 1990-91) for the longest streak in NBA history. The Spurs also set a franchise mark with three double-digit winning streaks.
Popovich was named the Coach of the Month in February and March, giving him 14 Coach of the Month awards in his career, the most in league annals. His back-to-back wins marked the second time Popovich earned consecutive coaching honors (November and December, 2010).
The longest tenured coach with the same team in all four major professional sports, Popovich holds the best winning percentage of the longest tenured coaches in the other three major professional sports (.679). In addition, his 847 victories with the Spurs ranks second all-time in NBA history for most wins with one team (Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz, 1,127)
Popovich has a record of 847-399 since 1996, he is one of only five coaches with four or more NBA championships, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, John Kundla and Red Auerbach, whom the Coach of the Year award is named after are the others.
But what was more impressive is Popovich ability to keep San Antonio's championship window from closing despite the odds.
Manu Ginobili missed nearly half the season after breaking his hand, yet San Antonio still kept winning without their playmaking guard.
The Spurs head coach took more risks and it paid off.
He put rookie forward Kawhi Leonard in the starting lineup by midseason and has kept him there for the playoffs. Swingman Danny Green, who the Spurs have previously cut multiple times, found his way into the starting lineup and emerged as a surprise offensive spark.
He did all that while keeping his stars healthy and rested as possible. He willingly surrendered 11-game winning streaks twice by playing without Duncan, Parker and Ginobili to avoid wear and tear, and to prepare his team as well as possible heading into the postseason.
(Photo via zimbio.com)