By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
“All of us share in this record,” he said following the 1,336th victory breaking the tie with Don Nelson, “It’s not mine. It’s ours, here in the city.”
“It’s just a testament to a whole lot of people,” he added, “Something like this does not belong to one individual. Basketball’s a team sport. You preach to your players that they have to do it together and that’s certainly been the case in my life with all the wonderful players and coaches, the staff that I’ve been blessed with, the support of this wonderful city. The fans support us no matter what.”
Popovich, 73, skipped questions on tying the record but was powerless to resist in the record-breaking night, in his 2,030th game through his 26th campaign at San Antonio. He was heckled by his players from the court to the locker room. “Tonight, he had to enjoy it. He had no option,” explained Dejounte Murray.
After completing his initial stint with the Spurs, as an assistant under Larry Brown, in 1992, he moved to the Golden State Warriors and worked with Nelson. He returned to San Antonio in 1994 and took over as head coach in 1996. From there, his lengthy run generated five NBA championships.
“The ironic thing about this is Nellie gave me a job when I didn’t have one back in ’92,” recalled the future Hall of Famer, “He took me on. To be in this position, in the same breath as him, is in my opinion undeserving and quite awkward because he was so wonderful in saving my family’s ass. So, it’s ironic that I’m sitting here in this situation.”
“I’m so proud of you for doing it,” mentioned Nelson in a video released by the Spurs, “I couldn’t wait for this day to happen.”
“Coach Pop is a Friend, a Mentor, a Leader, on and off the court,” mentioned former Spurs assistant and current AX Armani Exchange Milan play-caller Ettore Messina from Italy, “I am happy for him and proud for the Spurs family.”
“Gregg Popovich’s success with the Spurs is unprecedented in our league so it’s only fitting that he now holds the record for most career wins,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement, “His leadership and unwavering commitment to the game are widely admired by generations of players and coaches alike. Congratulations to Coach Pop on this latest achievement in his legendary career.”
“For what he’s meant to the profession to so many people and to myself,” commented Jazz boss Quin Snyder, former head coach of the Spurs G League team, “This is kind of the natural evolution of what it should be based on the integrity with which this program has won for so many years and him being the leader and personifying it.”
The Spurs jumping to 26-41 in the middle of a seven-game homestand, moved one game shy of the Western Conference Play-In Zone. Up next, they will host the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, and New Orleans Pelicans through next week.
Photo Credit: Getty Images