The 1995-96 Spurs were a David Robinson-led talented squad that won 53 games and won the Midwest division. But beyond that, this particular San Antonio team achieved something much more unique. No one could have known it at the time, but the roster was stacked with future NBA head coaches: Avery Johnson, Doc Rivers, Vinny Del Negro, and Monty Williams, who was recently fired by the Pelicans GM (none other than Dell Demps, Williams’s teammate on the 1995-96 Spurs).
That’s four future NBA coaches (and one executive) on one team. That has to be right up there on the list of elite sports improbables: completing the grand slam of golf, a sixteen seed ruining March for a one seed, or Deandre Jordan going fifty percent from the line in a single game.
It’s even fitting for the image of the Spurs organization, always praised for it’s class and basketball smarts. It could easily be one of those trivia questions no one knows the answer to but everyone can guess.
“What film director got in trouble as a child for attaching a firecracker to a toy train to watch it blow up?”
“What-how could I, oh! Michael Bay!”
“What NBA team in 1995 produced four future NBA coaches?”
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With the Monty Williams firing, only one of the 95′ Spurs is left pacing the sidelines and answering repetitive reporter questions between quarters. That’s Doc Rivers. But still, the Spurs are well represented around the league in this area, even with former backup point guard Jacque Vaughn finally being kicked out of his burning hot Orlando Magic seat this year. Coach Bud for the Hawks in an obvious one, his entire system is a child of Popovich’s and he even dedicated his Coach of the Year speech to Pops.
Steve Kerr played some years with the silver and black. Brett Brown, the coach of the lowly 76ers, was the Spurs director of player development for eleven years before taking over his young squad of raw talents and NBA outcasts. Then a guy who took over in Sacramento, who happens to be one of the most successful NBA head coaches ever, George Karl, played two years for the Spurs and was an assistant coach for the team afterwards.
So the franchise that’s torched the rest of the NBA in wins over the last 18 years also is producing a lot of NBA coaches. That’s not a real surprise, when you think about it. But it got me thinking: If all those guys are coaches now, which of these guys are going to be in the same position in the future?
There are so many candidates. If I were an NBA GM, and for some reason my owner wanted me to go ahead and sign a head coach for the 2025 NBA season, and I could only choose from the 2015 Spurs roster…I’d have a a real pain-in-the-ass of an owner. But I’d also have a tough decision to make.
Duncan is such an obvious choice, given his championship experience, drive towards teamwork and through-the-roof basketball IQ. His quiet demeanor could lead some to question whether he can take charge of the team and instill order, but I consider myself a believer in his subtle leadership. The problem, I’m going to say, is that if Duncan is truly looking for a coaching position he’ll have already landed one before 2025. It’d be similar to Jason Kidd‘s hiring right after his retirement.
Diaw fits the high IQ common player mold, which seems to be the type of player that ends up becoming head coaches, historically. I could see Diaw, as involved as he is in the ball movement, emulating the current Spurs offense to some success as an NBA coach. Anytime you get an opportunity to bring that kind of special offense to a team, you have to take it. Diaw is a major candidate for my 2025 NBA team.
It’s impossible not to consider the point guard, of course. The guy who paces the game and instigates the ball movement from the very beginning, as well as being the first line of defense against the opponents half-court offense. For the Spurs, it’s Tony Parker. Parker has ran quite the pick and roll throughout his career with the Spurs, and you can look for him to center his system around that as an NBA coach. Parker would make an excellent option if my team has a talented point guard we’re trying to develop, as well.
Danny Green fits the role player mold as well, and his deep understanding of floor spacing could really put his team over the top. (Think Steve Kerr’s Warriors.) The former Spurs 3 point marksman would be an excellent option for an already-talented team, as long as he’s not locked up with some college coaching contract elsewhere, as he was also a champion with UNC.
It’s anybody’s guess which of the younger guys could end up making a good sideline leader in 2025, Cory Joseph fits the brand of defensive backup guards that often find their way as NBA coaches (Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, etc.) and Kawhi Leonard could one day develop as a team leader and extend his dominance beyond his playing days. Of course, by 2025 I would already know how these players turn out. I guess I should try and convince my owner to be a little more patient.
It’s all pointless speculation to predict which Spurs will end up as head coaches, but it sure is a lot of fun, too. Tell us who you think could make a great coach in the comments! These are the Spurs, so there really aren’t any wrong answers. If the 1995-96 team is anything to go by, maybe all of them will end up coaching.