The Gregg Popovich effect

Spurs' head coach and front office have had major impact on the NBA

Updated: June 7, 2013, 9:14 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

Gregg Popovich and Tim DuncanAP Photo/Bahram Mark SobhaniGregg Popovich and Tim Duncan have enjoyed an unprecedented run of successful seasons.

It used to be that the most frequent adjective used to describe the San Antonio Spurs -- besides great -- was boring.

They had a quiet superstar in Tim Duncan, whose signature move was an old-school bank shot. They were led by a crusty coach in Gregg Popovich, who had seemingly emerged from the ether, having neither played in the NBA nor been a head coach at the major-college level. They had a slow, methodical style of play and a defense so effective that it stymied the fluidity of every offense it faced.

Seems to me the "Spurs are boring" stereotype is pretty much dead. Popovich has never warmed to the media, to put it mildly; he's not about to steal any of Phil Jackson's endorsement gigs. "Pop" just coaches on and on, and oversees the operation he established nearly 20 years ago.

Even though the dynasty he has built is nestled in the quiet center of the vast state of Texas, he's now widely recognized as one of the greatest basketball minds in the history of professional sports. And despite a truculence with the media that sometimes borders on belligerent, I dare say he has become a beloved figure in the process.

[+] EnlargeDavid Robinson
Jeff Haynes/Getty ImagesThe dynasty began with Robinson and has continued through to Duncan and Pop.

The Spurs have become a basketball operation recognized for traits any business or corporation would love to have as part of its brand: Culture. Accountability. Adaptability. Modesty. Selflessness. Success. Consistency. Efficiency.

How does that happen? Because of Popovich.


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