San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is having a pretty good year. Not only did the team win the lottery and the services of French phenom Victor Wembanyama, the coach affectionately known as “Pop” throughout the league, just signed the wealthiest head coaching contract in the history of the NBA. The team announced the move on Monday.
The coach, who is also the head of basketball operations, will earn $80 million over the next five years, per ESPN. The deal just eclipses the one signed by Monty Williams, the newly minted coach for the Detroit Pistons, whose deal was for six years for $78.5 million.
Popovich began with the Spurs in 1996 as the interim head coach. In the years since, he’s won five championships with the team. In 1997, Tim Duncan was drafted at No.1 by the Spurs, leading to the team’s run of 22 straight playoff appearances, which remains an NBA record.
At 74, Popovich is the league’s oldest coach and the longest-tenured in the NBA and across the four major sports leagues. He has amassed a record of 1,366 wins and 761 losses. The three-time Coach of the Year surpassed Don Nelson as the league’s all-time winningest coach,
He’ll be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2023, along with one of his superstar players, Tony Parker, who inspired a young Wembanyama as one of the first French-born players in the NBA. (Tariq Abdul Wahad was the first.)
Popovich also coached Team USA to a gold medal in basketball in Toyko in 2021 but won’t return to that role. His mentee and former player, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr, will lead the 2024 squad.
“There are so many people out there like me, whose lives have been impacted so dramatically and so positively by Pop,” Kerr said in April when the Hall of Fame honor was announced. “You can take all the accomplishments and the championships, and the wins and everything else, and that’s all meaningful, but it doesn’t come close to the meaning of his relationships that he’s built around the league and what he’s meant to so many of us.”
See how Twitter’s reacting to the deal, given Pop’s age, below.
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