The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has been calling Gregg Popovich for numerous years, and the gray-bearded head coach finally picked up the phone to accept his nomination after refusing their previous attempts to immortalize his countless achievements.
Popovich will be enshrined along a loaded class of fabled hoopers that have suited up for and against him during his two-plus decades commanding the San Antonio Spurs, and each of them had a unique experience sharing the court with him that helped define their career.
The 74-year-old participated in epic postseason battles versus Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol, turned Tony Parker into a perennial All-Star, and opened the door for Becky Hammon to smash the glass ceiling. But these are the pivotal events that tie these legends to Pop.
Dirk Nowitzki: Game 5 of the 2001 Western Conference Semifinals
Diehard Spurs fans might despise Dallas, but everyone has a profound respect for what Dirk Nowitzki accomplished during his magnificent career. The gifted German was an NBA champion, a 14-time All-Star, a regular-season and Finals MVP, and one of seven players in league history with at least 30,000 points. On top of that, he was a massive hurdle for Gregg Popovich and company for two decades.
Despite the divisional rivalry between these interstate competitors being somewhat lopsided in favor of San Antonio during their dynasty, Dirk proved he could make the Mavericks a formidable opponent during his first playoff series against the Silver and Black. Even with chipped teeth, the young forward poured in 42 points, 18 rebounds, and six steals in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.