USA Basketball recently named their next coaching lineup, and, unsurprisingly, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will have his fingerprints all over it.
After winning gold alongside Keldon Johnson and the rest of Team USA and silencing his haters along the way, Popovich will be passing the reins off to his former player and close friend, Steve Kerr. Beginning with the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2023, Kerr, who served as an assistant coach in the 2020 Olympics, will be the new head coach of USA Basketball.
Kerr book-ended his playing time in San Antonio with two NBA titles, winning under Coach Popovich in 1999 and 2003 before retiring. The two have had a deep bond ever since, with Kerr crediting Popovich for helping him get through a rough patch with the Golden State Warriors.
“If you can’t maintain your culture during the downtimes, then you don’t really have a culture," Kerr told the San Francisco Chronicle (subscription required) recently. "It’s just dependent on winning. The culture has to survive losing stretches, and that’s the beauty of what Pop has built over the last 20-plus years, almost 30."
Kerr has learned a lot about coaching from his mentor on the way to winning three of his own NBA titles as a head coach.
“His teams have morphed, continued Kerr. "Even his teams that were great, they changed styles as they needed to. The great thing about Pop is there’s always a perspective with his coaching."
Now, Kerr will take many of Coach Popovich's teachings with him as USA Basketball looks to reclaim their title as FIBA Basketball World Cup champions in 2023 and repeat as gold medalists in Paris in 2024. He won't be the only one doing so though.
Monty Williams, who won a championship as a coaching staff intern with the Spurs in 2005, will be an assistant coach on Kerr's staff. Williams also served as the vice president of basketball operations in San Antonio in 2016.
Williams is now in his third season as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns and is looking to build on his surprising NBA Finals appearance with the club this season.
While Gregg Popovich finally got the monkey off his back that had been bugging him since 1972, it'll be up to a couple of his top students to carry on his legacy. Something tells me they'll make him proud.