Gregg Popovich: Fitting the San Antonio Spurs Coach Is Next for USA Basketball

By David Kenyon

After a career supplemented by the success of foreign-born players, it’s only fitting the next step of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s career is located in the international realm.

USA Basketball announced Popovich will be the successor to Mike Krzyzewski, who has led the national team since 2005. Under the Duke coach’s watch, team USA has compiled a 75-1 record—including 68 straight wins—earning two Olympic gold medals, a pair of FIBA World Championships and a FIBA Americas Championship.

Krzyzewski will coach the United States through the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and then remain on staff as a special advisor for Popovich’s tenure, which is planned for 2017 through 2020.

Popovich, who has guided the Spurs to 11 division crowns, six Western Conference titles and five NBA championships, molded San Antonio into an organization that scours the world for top players. As most basketball fans know, the philosophy has bred success—and lots of it.

Pop a great choice for USAB. Resume speaks for itself and Spurs have long been at the forefront of international player development.

— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) October 23, 2015

Tony Parker (France), Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Tiago Splitter (Brazil) and a handful of others have been significant contributors—not only on the championship teams, but during every season to help keep the Spurs remain among the league’s elite.

Within a few years, however, the international flair will have strayed from San Antonio.

Ginobili is probably a single season away from retirement, Parker is slowing down and the team’s core of Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green each hail from the United States.

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But Popovich will hope to add a new type of international success to his résumé: Winning gold medals at the 2019 FIBA World Championship and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Six years from now, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, James Harden, Blake Griffin, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, John Wall, Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward, Bradley Beal and Leonard will each be 33 or younger.

It’s safe to say Popovich will have a loaded team when USA basketball heads to the FIBA Worlds and the Olympics. Hopefully he’ll return to the United States after those tournaments with the international prizes hanging around his neck instead of watching them dominate on the court.

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