While the rest of the NBA world waits in limbo for LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to decide where they are going to play next season, the San Antonio Spurs just keep quietly making sure the band is getting back together for a run at a second straight title.
In the middle of the James hysteria on Wednesday, the Spurs issued a two-sentence press release announcing that coach Gregg Popovich had agreed to a multi-year contract extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
After beating the Miami Heat for the franchise’s fifth championship last month, the Spurs quickly found out that Tim Duncan would indeed return next season. Deals with Patty Mills and Boris Diaw ensured that the roster would remain largely intact, so there was little doubt that the 65-year-old Popovich would return for a 19th season on the Spurs bench.
That was confirmed on Wednesday in a presentation that was predictably light on fanfare. No comments from Popovich. No statements from GM RC Buford or owner Peter Holt. No big deal, just the way Popovich likes it.
The talk of his pending retirement has grown louder as the years have gone on, but Popovich showed no sign of slowing down in season No. 18. He led the Spurs to a league-best 62 wins in the regular season, earned his third coach of the year award and then helped the team recover from the heartbreak of last year’s loss to the Heat in the finals with an emphatic five-game triumph this season.
“Day after day, year after year, the energy that Pop provides our organization is truly unique,” Buford said when Popovich joined Pat Riley and Don Nelson as the only coaches in league history to be named coach of the year three times.
Popovich is 1,116-533, including the playoffs, in a career that started in 1996. He is the longest-tenured coach in any of the four major American pro sports and has led the Spurs to at least 50 wins 16 times, including 15 in a row.
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