2. GREGG POPOVICH
Colangelo’s other finalist in 2005 to take over the transformation of USA Basketball from a novelty every FIBA year to a multi-year commitment was San Antonio’s Pop. Some have already made the case he become the winner should Coach K decide to step away, and with good reason: He understands how to win with international players and certainly how to beat them, too. No other team has had as much success in the NBA that has been so heavily based on its foreign players than San Antonio.
Here’s what Colangelo told the Sacramento Bee in May:
“If you recall, Mike and Pop were my two choices in 2005,” Colangelo said in a phone interview. “When I talked to Coach K, he almost jumped through the phone. I didn’t sense that same enthusiasm in my conversation with ‘Pop.’ Afterward, he sent me a letter and said I misinterpreted what he said. He felt I had misjudged him, and maybe I did. But that was a long time ago. How can anyone argue with his record, his performance? With him as a great coach?”
The Bee‘s Ailiene Voisin also points out Pop spent five years studying intelligence near the Soviet border after graduation from the Air Force Academy. He loves his country and has been the best basketball coach in the world not named Phil Jackson since he became the Spurs’ head coach. Next?