|Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich have accomplished what no other player-coach duo has in NBA history. (blogs.thescore.com)|
Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich accomplished this feat in a very Duncan and Popovich manner.
They did it without a lot of flash, but they did it better than anyone else. They did it in a way that makes you feel surprised when you hear it. It can't possibly be right, until you think about it and realize it makes absolute sense.
ESPN Stats and Info tweeted before Monday's Spurs/Grizzlies game that Duncan and Popovich had won 128 playoff games, the most for a player-coach duo in NBA history. That number is now 129 and will surely rise more before the season is over.
That's more than Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson.
That's more than Red Auerbach and Bill Russell.
That's more than Magic Johnson and Pat Riley.
That's more than Karl Malone and Jerry Sloan.
You get the idea. That group is impressive company, yet there are other great duos that fall behind Duncan and Popovich in that category.
Yet either due to the style of play or the location of the team, the Duncan/Popovich duo never seems to be appreciated for the Spurs' postseason success the way the before mentioned duos were. They've won more playoff games than anyone else through consistency, experience and a style of play that would make James Naismith proud.
Duncan is the Big Fundamental, a lock for the NBA Hall of Fame, and Popovich the wizard with a secret to youthful stamina and getting a group of players to play like a team. They've been doing this since 1997, when Duncan was a rookie and Popovich was a second-year head coach. And it's not just playoff wins they have to show for it, it's four NBA Championships as well. Every year seems to be the year the Spurs, and Duncan, are too old (Duncan is 37) and yet here they are, off to the NBA Finals again. And here we are, surprised that they could be leading a statistic like the one above.
Right now Duncan and Popovich's workman-like mentality rubs off on us. They work hard and take care of business, not making more of the success than it is. The Spurs are in the NBA Finals again. That's what we've grown to know and expect as long as these two and guys like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are still playing.
Sometime in the near future, the time will have come where Duncan hangs up the jersey and Popovich sits somewhere other than the bench. Maybe in hindsight we will look back with less shock at that number and appreciate the success more.
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