San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was named the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2011-12 season, according to USA Today. It is Popovich’s second time winning the award in his 16-year career. (Editor’s note: All quotes are also courtesy of USA Today.)
Due in large part to Popovich’s ability to alter his coaching philosophy and adhere to the collective strength of his team, the Spurs clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 50-16 record.
Popovich feels that the flexibility San Antonio offers him is invaluable.
“The fact they allow me to coach them the way I coach them surprises me on a daily basis,” Popovich said at the news conference in San Antonio announcing the honor. “Timmy sets the tone on the floor for our players. … Win or lose, they do it with class and they do it the right way.”
From top to bottom, the Spurs organization has run efficiently, and most importantly, effectively. Without the steady prescence of Popovich, though, maybe the Spurs don’t enjoy their prolonged success.
“I think we’ve just been blessed with people who understand their priorities, very team-oriented. Our organization is also blessed, as I’ve said many times, with incredible good fortune to draft David Robinson and follow that up with Tim Duncan. That’s a couple decades of very, very possible success, unless you screw it up. It’s hard to take credit when the circumstances have gone your way so consistently.”
Most impressively is the Spurs transformation from an elite defensive team to an offensive juggernaut. The Spurs’ top-ranked offense — with a gaudy average of 110.9 points per 100 possessions — predicated on the Spurs depth and Popovich’s trust in his players, regardless of age.
After beginning the season 10-7, Popovich’s Spurs finished with a sparkling record of 40-9, including three winning streaks of at least 10 games.
Other notable Coach of the Year Candidates were Tom Thibodeau (50-16), Scott Brooks (47-19), Frank Vogel (42-24), Ryan Hollins (41-25), Larry Drew (40-26), Doc Rivers (39-27) and Mike Woodson for reviving the New York Knicks.