Pop's influence
Old 11-21-2009, 12:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Representing: Pop's influence

Popovich oversees a kinder, gentler mafia. Four of his former San Antonio associates are now general managers running their own NBA playoff contenders -- Danny Ferry in Cleveland, Sam Presti in Oklahoma City, Steve Kerr in Phoenix and Kevin Pritchard in Portland -- with a combined record of 33-17 over this opening month of the season. The equivalent of an entire NBA division is controlled by Popovich or his offspring.

The lessons of working or playing for San Antonio can be career-changing. Though Kerr didn't wear a Spurs uniform until he was 33 and never worked in their front office, his four seasons with Popovich had a lasting impact.

"The guys that I talk to most on the phone of the other GMs [throughout the league] are Ferry and Presti, and there's a reason for that -- that our connection was made in San Antonio," said Kerr, who won two championships as a Spur. "There's always going to be a strong bond between those of us who were there with Pop. You're always going to have a connection with people who influence you, and it just so happens that Pop has probably more people around the league than anybody."

Since taking control of the Spurs as GM in 1994 and head coach two years later, Popovich has created an organization that has been fruitful and multiplied. Cavs coach Mike Brown was a longtime assistant to Popovich, and Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro spent almost half of his career playing for him. Avery Johnson coached the Mavericks to the 2006 Finals by applying principles learned from Popovich, and former coaches Terry Porter and P.J. Carlesimo were hired as graduates of the Spurs' school. Four of the last 10 Coach of the Year awards have been won by Popovich or someone he mentored, including Boston's Doc Rivers, who was honored as rookie coach of the heart-and-hustle 1999-2000 Orlando Magic following a three-year run in San Antonio as a player and local TV broadcaster (1994-97).

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Old 11-21-2009, 01:19 AM   #2 (permalink)

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great article.
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