At the end of the Spurs-Knicks game back on November 8th, Coach Popovich shared a moment with New York coach Tom Thibodeau. During the embrace, Coach Pop was seen telling Thibs, "It's going to take some time." That game was a 126-105 blowout, and it seemed like the time referenced would likely stretch forever, but apparently, the longest-tenured coach in the NBA only meant it would take a couple more months.
When the season's length is 82 games and you watch your team lose 18 straight, the growth period can feel like an eternity, but that wasn't what the coach meant. There is no denying that it has been bad. It has been all-time bad. But it would also be irresponsible to ignore the subtle strides the team was making throughout.
Everyone who doubted Coach Popovich owes him an apology
An Air Alamo recent article spoke to the urgency Coach Popovich and the Spurs should feel when considering San Antonio's record. It is the worst record in franchise history, and to avoid the season ending negatively on a historic scale, he needed to turn things around and finish the season on a strong note. That piece came out yesterday. If last night's game had happened two days ago, the article would not have come out at all.
The team's effort has been undeniable for a four-game stretch, which should be attributed to coaching. The criticisms were still justified because of the wild experiments Coach Pop ran during the beginning of the season, but credit is issued where credit is due. The staff made the proper adjustments, and the team has been performing above the lowered expectations earned by their disappointing start.
This is the man who took Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and turned them into first-ballot Hall of Famers. He forged a dynasty in the small market of San Antonio and ran off 20 straight seasons of excellence. It was always premature to criticize him while orchestrating his first true rebuild. The last four games are an indication that the team is listening to the coaching, it's working, and the NBA is in a world of trouble.