Gregg Popovich believed he’d retire alongside Tim Duncan in 2016
Gregg Popovoch recently revealed he believed he’d retire alongside Tim Duncan when his longtime colleague — not to mention friend — announced the end of his Hall of Fame career with the San Antonio Spurs.
“I kind of believed that,” Popovich recently said in an interview with Marc Stein of The New York Times.“Or maybe I was trying to make myself believe it — that I was just going to go out on Timmy’s coattails.”
Of course, that plan did not come to fruition when Duncan announced his retirement following the 2015-16 NBA season. Even in the superstar’s absence, Pop forged ahead and led the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals in 2016-17.
And then came last season, one in which Duncan’s heir apparent, Kawhi Leonard, was limited to only nine games due to injury amid reports that the superstar and organization were not seeing eye-to-eye for some time over myriad issues.
The Spurs nevertheless made it to the postseason under Popovich’s watch but were quickly eliminated in the first round by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
Popovich was also blindsided by the sudden death of his beloved wife, Erin, who passed away during the Warriors series at the age of 67 after a lengthy battle with an illness. The couple was married four decades and had two children and two grandchildren.
On the Leonard front, Popovich said last week he “couldn’t be happier” with the blockbuster trade that netted DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick for the San Antonio Spurs. In exchange, the Spurs gave up the disgruntled Leonard along with standout player Danny Green in exchange.
During his comments to Stein, Popovich made it clear it’s time to move on.
“I’m not too interested in talking about the past,” Popovich said of the Leonard ordeal. “It doesn’t do us any good whatsoever.”
Whenever Popovich does elect to call it quits, his legacy is without question assured. The often curmudgeonly but brilliant Pop will go down as one of the greatest coaches to ever patrol an NBA court.