As Steve Kerr and Ime Udoka prepare to face off in the NBA Finals, people were quick to point out that this is a clash between coaches who made it to the Finals in their very first year as head coach in the NBA. While they have that in common, another thing that links them together is Gregg Popovich.
Pop coached Kerr, as well as Udoka with the San Antonio Spurs, and both men were surely influenced by working with an all-time great like Pop. Popovich is surely in the conversation when it comes to being the greatest coach of all time and this season he surpassed Don Nelson for the most wins for a coach in NBA history. Alongside him for a lot of those wins was Udoka, who was also an assistant to Popovich from 2012 to 2019.
It now marks the second Finals in a row that Popovich has left an imprint on the Finals, as last year his former long-time assistant Mike Budenholzer faced off against Monty Williams who played for Pop with the Spurs as well. He may no longer have the horses to compete for the big prize like he once did, but Popovich continues to have an impact in one way or the other.
It seems unlikely that he will add to the 5 championships he has won with the Spurs but that hasn’t deterred Pop from sticking around and going by his comments after the play-in game, it doesn’t look like he’s going to be done any time in the near future either.
The Spurs are definitely not in a hurry to see him leave and they’d be more than willing to have him around for as long as he desires. Regardless of whether he is able to turn this current version of the team into the perennial contenders they once were, his legacy is set in stone anyway.