San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich yells to his team during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks in game one during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. The Spurs defeated the Mavericks 90-85. (USA TODAY Sports: Jerome Miron)
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich credits his players for rebounding in resilient fashion from what he considers the most devastating defeat in his coaching tenure with the franchise — Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals — to post the best record in the league a year later.
Popovich’s players and a panel of voters are inclined to give the veteran coach some of that credit.
Popovich is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year. The Spurs finished with a league-best 62-20 (.756) record, which provided them with home-court advantage throughout the postseason and gave the franchise 15 consecutive seasons with at least 50 victories under Popovich.
San Antonio lost in the 2013 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat, who rallied from a 3-2 series deficit with a furious last-minute comeback in Game 6 and won Game 7 in Miami.
Popovich, who wins his second NBA Coach of the Year award in the past three seasons and third of his career, joins Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only coaches to receive the honor three times.
Phoenix Suns’ fist-year coach Jeff Hornacek finished second in the voting with 339 total points, including 37 first-place votes. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was third.
Popovich totaled 380 points, including 59 first-place votes, from a panel of 124 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. For the first time in league history, full results of the balloting from individual voters will be posted on NBA.com.
The Spurs were the only team to record 30-plus wins both at home (32-9, .780) and on the road (30-11, .732), and their 38-14 record against conference opponents tied for the best mark in the league (Indiana Pacers). San Antonio led the NBA in points per game differential at plus-7.8, having averaged 105.4 ppg while giving up just 97.6 ppg.
San Antonio recorded a 19-game winning streak — tied for fifth-longest in NBA history — between Feb. 26-April 2 and Popovich won 60 games in a season for the fourth time in his career.
Popovich ended the 2013-14 campaign with 967 regular season wins, good for ninth on the all-time list.
The Coach of the Year Award is named after legendary coach and Hall of Famer Red Auerbach who guided the Celtics to nine NBA Championships. In 1996, Auerbach was honored as one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History as the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary.
ALL-TIME NBA COACH OF THE YEAR WINNERS
1962-63 - Harry Gallatin, St. Louis
1963-64 - Alex Hannum, San Francisco
1964-65 - Red Auerbach, Boston
1965-66 - Dolph Schayes, Philadelphia
1966-67 - Johnny Kerr, Chicago
1967-68 - Richie Guerin, St. Louis
1968-69 - Gene Shue, Baltimore
1969-70 - Red Holzman, New York
1970-71 - Dick Motta, Chicago
1971-72 - Bill Sharman, Los Angeles
1972-73 - Tom Heinsohn, Boston
1973-74 - Ray Scott, Detroit
1974-75 - Phil Johnson, Kansas City-Omaha
1975-76 - Bill Fitch, Cleveland
1976-77 - Tom Nissalke, Houston
1977-78 - Hubie Brown, Atlanta
1978-79 - Cotton Fitzsimmons, Kansas City
1979-80 - Bill Fitch, Boston
1980-81 - Jack McKinney, Indiana
1981-82 - Gene Shue, Washington
1982-83 - Don Nelson, Milwaukee
1983-84 - Frank Layden, Utah
1984-85 - Don Nelson, Milwaukee
1985-86 - Mike Fratello, Atlanta
1986-87 - Mike Schuler, Portland
1987-88 - Doug Moe, Denver
1988-89 - Cotton Fitzsimmons, Phoenix
1989-90 - Pat Riley, LA Lakers
1990-91 - Don Chaney, Houston
1991-92 - Don Nelson, Golden State
1992-93 - Pat Riley, New York
1993-94 - Lenny Wilkens, Atlanta
1994-95 - Del Harris, Los Angeles Lakers
1995-96 - Phil Jackson, Chicago
1996-97 - Pat Riley, Miami
1997-98 - Larry Bird, Indiana
1998-99 - Mike Dunleavy, Portland
1999-00 - Doc Rivers, Orlando
2000-01 - Larry Brown, Philadelphia
2001-02 - Rick Carlisle, Detroit
2002-03 - Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
2003-04 - Hubie Brown, Memphis
2004-05 - Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix
2005-06 - Avery Johnson, Dallas
2006-07 - Sam Mitchell, Toronto
2007-08 - Byron Scott, New Orleans
2008-09 - Mike Brown, Cleveland
2009-10 - Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City
2010-11 - Tom Thibodeau, Chicago
2011-12 - Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
2012-13 - George Karl, Denver
2013-14 - Gregg Popovich, San Antonio