|Birth Day:||January 28, 1949|
|Birth Place:||East Chicago, United States|
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He coached the U.S. Air Force Academy and later earned a graduate degree in sports science.
Popovich was born in East Chicago, Indiana, on January 28, 1949, to a Serbian father and a Croatian mother. He attended Merrillville High School and graduated in 1970 from the United States Air Force Academy. He played basketball for four seasons at the Academy, and in his senior year was the team captain and leading scorer. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Soviet Studies and underwent Air Force intelligence training. He later earned a master's degree in physical education and sports sciences at the University of Denver. At one point, Popovich considered a career with the Central Intelligence Agency.
Popovich served five years of required active duty in the United States Air Force, during which he toured Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union with the U.S. Armed Forces Basketball Team. In 1972 he was selected as captain of the Armed Forces Team, which won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championship. This earned him an invitation to the 1972 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team trials.
Popovich returned to the Air Force Academy as an assistant coach in 1973 under head coach Hank Egan, a position he held for six years. Egan later became an assistant coach under Popovich for the San Antonio Spurs.
During his time with the coaching staff of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Popovich attended the University of Denver and earned his master's degree in physical education and sports sciences. In 1979, he was named the head basketball coach of Pomona-Pitzer's men's team. Popovich coached Pomona-Pitzer men's basketball from 1979 to 1988, leading the team to its first outright title in 68 years.
Following the 1987–88 season, Popovich joined Brown as the lead assistant coach for the Spurs. From 1988 to 1992, Popovich was Brown's top assistant, until the entire staff, including R. C. Buford, Alvin Gentry and Ed Manning, were fired by owner Red McCombs. Popovich moved to the Golden State Warriors for a brief stint in 1992, serving as an assistant under future Hall of Famer Don Nelson and bringing with him Avery Johnson, who had been cut by the Spurs.
In 1994, Popovich returned to San Antonio as the general manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations after Peter Holt purchased the team. Popovich's first move was to sign Avery Johnson as the team's starting point guard. Another one of Popovich's early moves in San Antonio was to trade Dennis Rodman to the Chicago Bulls for Will Perdue. Rodman was not fond of Popovich, as Rodman said in his first book, Bad As I Wanna Be.
After the Spurs had a 3–15 start in the 1996–97 season, with David Robinson sidelined with a preseason back injury, Popovich fired coach Bob Hill and named himself head coach. Robinson then broke his foot after only six games and was lost for the season. Sean Elliott was also limited to 39 games due to injury, and Chuck Person missed the entire season. With a reduced roster that included an aging Dominique Wilkins, the Spurs struggled and won only 17 games for the remainder of the season for an overall record of 20–62. The Spurs' disastrous season allowed them the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft, which they used to draft Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest University.
The Spurs blossomed as the 6'11" Duncan teamed up with the 7'1" Robinson in a "Twin Tower" offense and defense for several years. After recovering to win 56 games in 1997-1998 (Popovich's first full year as coach), the Spurs won their first NBA title in 1999.
In 2002, Popovich relinquished his position as general manager to R. C. Buford, who had served as the team's head scout. Popovich and Buford were both given their starts in the NBA in 1988 as assistants on Brown's coaching staff with the Spurs.
Popovich has won five championships with the Spurs—1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2003, 2012, and 2014.
On April 4, 2008, Popovich returned to the U.S. Air Force Academy to receive the academy's award of Distinguished Graduate. Despite his four NBA titles at the time, Popovich said it was the most meaningful award he had ever received.
On May 2, 2012, Popovich won his second Coach of the Year Award for the 2011–12 NBA season.
On November 29, 2012, Popovich sat out starters Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginóbili, and Danny Green for a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat. Popovich has frequently sat out his starters on road trips over the years to ensure they have enough rest for the playoffs; the Spurs' roster was among the oldest in the league. NBA commissioner David Stern was outraged by this and said on the night of the game that it was "unacceptable," and "substantial sanctions [would] be forthcoming." On November 30, Stern fined the Spurs $250,000 for what he called "a disservice to the league and the fans." According to Stern, Popovich had not informed the Heat, the league or the media in a suitable time frame that the four players were not making the trip to Miami. Stern's decision was criticized by commentators such as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who said, "Stern doesn't care about the realities of his league, just the appearances. To him, the appearance on Thursday night was that Popovich had tried to embarrass him on national television and that's why the commissioner tossed that tantrum."
On April 22, 2014, Popovich was awarded the Red Auerbach Trophy as he won the NBA Coach of the Year for the third time. He also won his fifth NBA championship with San Antonio that season, beating the Heat 4–1 in the Finals.
On February 9, 2015, Popovich became the ninth coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games when the Spurs defeated the Indiana Pacers 95–93. He and Jerry Sloan are the only two coaches in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one franchise.
On August 1, 2015, Popovich served as Team Africa's head coach at the 2015 NBA Africa exhibition game.
On October 23, 2015, Popovich was named head coach of the U.S. men's national team, taking over from Mike Krzyzewski after the 2016 Olympic Games.
On February 4, 2017, Popovich recorded his 1,128th regular season win with one franchise, surpassing Sloan.
Popovich was married to Erin Popovich until her death on April 18, 2018; the couple had two children.
On April 13, 2019, Popovich surpassed Lenny Wilkens and became the all-time winningest coach in NBA history with his 1,413th win (regular season and playoffs combined).
At the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the U.S. national team finished in seventh place, its worst finish ever in international competition.
On multiple occasions, Popovich has spoken out on behalf of social justice issues, including in support of the Women's March. He has also repeatedly criticized the behavior of President Donald Trump. Popovich endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Currently, Gregg Popovich is 74 years, 1 months and 21 days old. Gregg Popovich will celebrate 75th birthday on a Sunday 28th of January 2024.
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