The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, resulting in Gregg Popovich reaching an extraordinary milestone in his 26-year head coach career.
With the win, Popovich tied Don Nelson’s all-time record of 1,335 wins as NBA head coach. He’s recorded all those victories while in charge of San Antonio, where he took over in 1996.
Although Popovich’s Spurs inflicted a painful loss on the Lakers last Monday, Carmelo Anthony paid tribute to the 73-year-old’s illustrious coaching career — emphasizing his adaptability, as he has led San Antonio through different eras in the NBA.
“One of the greatest. Let’s just start with that,” Anthony said.
“Someone who’s studied the game knows the game. Implemented a system and style of play that he wanted to play from the very day he stepped foot in the NBA. The way that he’s able to adjust after all these years to the ‘new game of basketball.’ New way of playing. Spacing, smaller, faster and more threes. He’s able to adapt.
“He’s able to adjust his coaching style. Some people may not like it, some people didn’t like it, but you can’t take that away from him.
“I’ve been able to see him 19 seasons and the consistency that he has regardless of who’s out there. His system is his system, and you can implement guys in and out of that system, and you’re still going to get some of the same results.
“For somebody to be able to do that and kind of just have that hold on that style of play and this organization and this city and his players and the fans. You can’t get nothing better than that.”
The Spurs have won all of their five championships under Popovich, who is just one of five coaches to collect this many NBA titles. He’s also led Team USA to an Olympic gold during the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Anthony discusses adjustments while playing as center
Anthony has played the lion’s share of his minutes in the center slot for the Lakers this season, a result of the team’s embrace of small-ball. The 37-year-old forward recently opened up on matching up with the NBA’s centers considerably more often than he did in the past.
“We didn’t have seven-footers in my neighborhood when we were growing up (laughs),” Anthony said. “It’s a little different, man. A little different. Playing against those guys, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of work. You got to be smarter on what you do on your schemes and how you defend that and how you play that.
“You can’t play it the same way every time down the court, so you got to try to use your smarts against seven-footers like that.”