June 15, 2014
Former Air Force player and assistant coach Gregg Popovich won his fifth NBA championship as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 104-87 to win the 2014 NBA Finals four games to one.
Popovich, the longest tenured coach with the same team among the 122 NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB franchises, is one of five coaches in history with at least five NBA Championships (along with Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, John Kundla and Pat Riley).
A 1970 graduate of the Academy, Popovich led the Falcons in scoring as a senior with a 14.3 average and served as team captain while helping the team to a 12-12 record. He graduated with a degree in Soviet studies, followed by a five-year military commitment in the United States Air Force.
In 1973, he made his first foray into coaching, spending six years as an assistant at the Academy, then spent eight seasons as the head coach of Pomona-Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. He joined Larry Brown’s staff as an assistant for the Spurs in 1988.
After a two-year stint coaching with Don Nelson at Golden State, Popovich returned to the Spurs as general manager in 1994. He added head coaching to his long list of responsibilities on Dec. 10, 1996, when he replaced Bob Hill on the Spurs’ sideline.
Popovich, a three-time NBA Coach of the Year, also led the Spurs to the NBA championship in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.