The San Antonio Spurs’ group of coaches are among the best in the NBA.
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Part of that depth is the assistant coaching staff.
Gregg Popovich has groomed numerous young assistant coaches for two decades. It’s no wonder why so many of his assistants have become head coaches themselves.
Brett Brown is trusting the process in Philadelphia, ready for his fifth year with the 76ers. Mike Budenholzer will begin his fifth year with the Atlanta Hawks. Jacque Vaughn won a ring with the Spurs as a player in 2007. He was fired by Orlando midway through his third season as head coach. Mike Brown coached the Cavs and the Lakers, and is now the associate head coach for the Warriors.
Every time Pop loses one of his assistants, he plugs in another coach and continues to preach defense and ball movement. This offseason, he actually managed to keep the group in tact.
Messina is a coaching legend
Ettore Messina is preparing for his fourth season on the Spurs bench. Many people believe he will be the next Spurs coach, should Pop ever decide to call it a career. He is deemed one of the best coaches ever in the EuroLeague. He has won all kinds of awards, all over the world. Messina has coached in Italy, Russia, Spain, and even in Los Angeles as an assistant with the Lakers in the 2011-12 season. He brings decades of basketball wisdom to the team without a doubt.
Former Spur Ime Udoka is set for his sixth season as an assistant under Popovich. Udoka is well traveled. He played for the Nigerian national team in 2006. He has also played for numerous semi-pro teams around the country, from North Dakota to South Carolina, to Fort Worth. But Spurs fans know him best from his days wearing the silver and black. He has been dating actress Nia Long since 2010, and they had a baby in 2011, Kez Sunday Udoka. He won a ring as an assistant with the Spurs in 2014.
Borrego could have gone back home
Albuquerque native James Borrego returns to the Spurs bench this season. In April, it was rumored that Borrego might land the head coaching job at New Mexico. He did not go to New Mexico though. Probably because if he waits, he will have a chance to get an NBA head coaching job at some point. In the 2014-15 season, he was on Jacque Vaughn’s staff in Orlando. Vaughn got fired 52 games in. The Magic named Borrego the interim head coach. They went 10-20 as a team in those last 30 games. He played his college ball at San Diego, where he made West Coast Conference All-Academic team his senior year.
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Chip Engelland is ready for his 13th season as a Spurs assistant. Engelland played four years at Duke under Coach K. He bounced around a few semi-pro teams from 1984-1991. At that point, he started coaching players how to shoot. A top notch shooting coach is what he is now. One tidbit about Chip Engelland. In 1979, when he was a high school senior in Los Angeles, he led the city in scoring, showing off his silky smooth jumper.
Trail blazer on Spurs bench
Like Coach Borrego, we are also lucky to have Becky Hammon still on our bench. She interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks GM position this offseason, not getting it though. The University of Florida pursued her to be their women’s head basketball coach. She politely turned it down, deciding to stick with the Spurs. Hammon had an outstanding playing career, college and professional. It looks as though she is on the same track as a coach.
This brings us to Will Hardy, who is in his 9th season with San Antonio. This upcoming season will be his second as an assistant. He just finished his third summer league season as head coach. Coach Hardy played college ball at Williams College, a Division III school in Massachusetts.
They’ll come and they’ll go, it’s inevitable
So many have experienced the tutelage of Pop, and are now with other organizations. Whether it be as an assistant, or front office. And I get it, franchises want to bring in these guys because they show up with winning habits. So enjoy the current assistant coaching staff. Organizations striving to be like the Spurs will court them. We can’t be mad at that, it’s the nature of the beast. And the Spurs are too good to hide these guys … and gal.