One question has been looming over the San Antonio Spurs with each passing year: Who will follow Gregg Popovich as the next head coach of the team?
As we approach the month of May, there are many students who should be enjoying a graduation ceremony/rite of passage to enter their next stage in life. Unfortunately, life as we know it has been impacted by unforeseen events and all households, businesses and organizations, have made quick adjustments. Despite these short-term changes, longterm planning is still important, including succession planning, which the San Antonio Spurs need to consider.
In sports, as in business, succession planning is crucial for maintaining the right individuals to lead a company or organization. Although there are a lot of sophisticated assessments, training programs and more to identify the right individuals for important positions, it is not an easy task. Finding the right fit is very difficult.
Did you know that in the NBA there have only been three NBA coaches with more than 15 consecutive years with the same team? Can you name them?
Red Auerbach, 15 seasons, Boston Celtics (1950-1966)Jerry Sloan, 23 seasons, Utah Jazz (1988-2011)Gregg Popovich, 24 seasons (and counting?), San Antonio Spurs (1996-present)
So yes, finding the right fit is very difficult, but once an organization does it is a wonderful thing to enjoy. Knowing that you have the right person to lead a team allows the focus to be on other tasks instead of questioning if the person leading the squad is the best fit for the job.
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I mention this because succession planning must be on the minds of Spurs management and ownerships. All organizations must plan ahead. Both the Celtics and Jazz had their successor coach in line.—Utah had Tyrone Corbin on the staff as an assistant coach for seven seasons before he assumed command when Sloan retired (Corbin was the Jazz head coach for four seasons). For Boston, it was much easier as the great Bill Russell assumed player-coach duties for three seasons while leading the Celtics to the title in his second and final seasons in Boston.
What about our Spurs? Becky Hammon has been a Spurs assistant coach for six seasons now (2014-present). The Spurs also have an all-time great who has recently joined the coaching roster, although not as player-coach. Duncan is in his inaugural debut as a Spurs assistant coach. Will one of these two be the next Head Coach? Or could it be from someone not currently on staff? Or maybe even someone from outside the organization?
It is always good to have a succession plan in place. Although plans can and do change, thinking about who will assume head coaching duties is crucial for the San Antonio Spurs. For a franchise who has had great stability finding the right coach may be just as important as finding the right players to build a roster around. Thankfully, the Spurs have very good options in front of them. Sometimes, the person retiring may be one of the best suited for naming their successor.
Let’s hope that when that time does come, Coach Pop can name his successor as the next head coach, however difficult that decision may be.