The spectre of Gregg Popovich’s retirement has hung over the San Antonio Spurs for a while, and Pop’s recent comments make his future look even murkier.
Gregg Popovich has continued to climb up the NBA’s all-time wins leaderboard this season as the San Antonio Spurs have become one of the league’s hottest teams under Pop’s leadership.
There is no doubt that we are in the twilight of Popovich’s wonderful coaching career as speculation of his retirement has gotten louder and louder each year.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein was able to get a quick question in about Pop’s future after the Spurs’ 19-point comeback victory over the Mavericks last night to which Popovich replied, “I don’t know the answer.”
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These comments should come with the caveat that the question came immediately after an extremely emotional road win, and “I don’t know” doesn’t really give us an indication of his future plans.
Stein also talked to team president R.C. Buford about the situation. Pop and Buford have discussed the legendary coach’s future past this season, and Buford told Stein, “He’ll coach as long as he wants to coach.”
The prevailing thought ever since the big three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker broke up is that Pop would coach through the 2019-20 season, coach the Olympic team in Tokyo, and then he would likely retire from coaching.
However, this most recent comment suggests he’s at least entertaining the thought of retiring after this current season.
The past couple years have been incredibly difficult for Pop.
He lost his wife of over four decades last spring, and that undoubtedly took an emotional toll on Popovich.
To a far lesser extent, the Kawhi Leonard drama also took a lot out of him as he’d never had to deal with a defecting superstar throughout his illustrious career.
Popovich will turn 70 on January 28th, and he’s always had interests outside of basketball that he would love to enjoy during retirement.
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The Spurs have to be ready to transition into a new era at any time, and they have a few coaches on staff that could step in right away when Pop decides to put away the clipboard for good.
For now, Spurs fans will just have to wait and see because I highly doubt a decision will be announced during the regular season.