Gregg Popovich is a legendary NBA coach who has won a ton of championships in the sport. Despite this, he often makes some odd public statements. One such recent event occurred at a recent Olympic practice when he made a (backhanded) comment to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.

​It was nearly a month ago when the United States faced off against Puerto Rico in the Olympics, but when the matchup was over, it wasn’t Puerto Rico that was the winner, but rather head coach of the US Olympic Men’s Basketball team, Gregg Popovich. It was at the end of a particularly grueling practice, as the U.S. had a scrimmage with its Olympic team against the same Puerto Rican team that it faced in the Olympics, when the Spurs coaching legend decided to send a message. After a particularly long and grueling practice, the Spurs head coach made his move. He took a few moments to pat Puerto Rican head coach, Erik Spoelstra on the head, as the two walked off the court. The gesture

Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich have a long history of working together at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Spoelstra, the longtime head coach of the Miami Heat, is Popovich’s assistant on Team USA. Years after they met in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals, Popovich sent Spoelstra the curious definition of a returned compliment.

Gregg Popovich called Erik Spoelstra a great young coach

Pop just said Spo is a fantastic young coach.

Spo, of course, has been on the job longer than any other coach in the NBA – except for Pop.

– Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 7, 2021

At 72, Popovich thinks everyone is still young. He’s been a head coach in the NBA since 1996 – remember, we’re playing in an era where more players were born in 2000 or later – and he’s won five championships in that time.

However, there are moments when Popovich’s reminder of his own age leads to embarrassing moments. According to the Associated Press, Popovich was referring to Spoelstra, who died at 1. November is 51 years old, recently as a fantastic young coach.

As we said before, for Popovich, everyone is young by nature. The days of Phil Jackson and Larry Brown coaching on the NBA sidelines are long gone. Even Miami’s Udonis Haslem, the oldest active player at 41, didn’t play his first game in the NBA until 2003.

So what’s wrong with what Popovich said about Spoelstra? Remember, Spoelstra is the second longest-serving coach in the NBA, behind Popovich. Compared to people 50 and older, it seems wrong to describe a young coach as someone who just finished his 13th season. Ended the season as the NBA’s head coach.

Spoelstra has quietly accomplished a lot in the NBA

U.S. basketball coach Gregg Popovich returned the compliment to Eric Spoelstra, his assistant who also coaches the Miami Heat| Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Popovich probably meant no harm with his comments, and theyarerelatively harmless. But it’s definitely a second-hand compliment, even if it’s unintentional.

If Popovich had said that about Oklahoma City’s Mark Dayno (who turns 36 in August) or Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins (who is a year older than Dayno), there would have been no problem. And even if Popovich were to use the term in reference to Brooklyn’s Steve Nash, who turned 47 in February, it would still work because Nash just finished his first season as a head coach.

Compare that to Spoelstra, who has a career record of 607-424. He won two NBA Finals as a head coach and has an 85-58 record in the postseason. This is not the resume of a young and inexperienced coach.

In its 13 seasons, the Heat have won the Eastern Conference five times. Yes, LeBron James and the Big Three are responsible for four of those Finals, but who gets the head coaching credit? It’s Spoelstra, of course.

Spoelstra shows no signs of retiring anytime soon, and he will coach a talented Heat team in the 2021-22 season. It’s not unrealistic to think that a third championship one day could lead to induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Popovich, with his five titles, is pretty much the only candidate at this point.

Can Spoelstra coach the US at the Olympics?

Popovich turns 73 in January 2022, and he won’t coach the Spurs forever. The same goes for Team USA, which he is coaching for the first time at the Olympics.

Popovich has yet to name his successor, but Spoelstra is an interesting candidate. He is a proven head coach who is now gaining experience at the Olympics. If the Olympics are held in 2024, as planned, he will be 54 years old and will be able to train for many international games and competitions.

It would be a natural move for Spoelstra and for the U.S. team as a whole. However, we are aware that the transition from a great young coach to a great middle-aged coach is not the same.

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COMPARED TO: U.S. basketball coach Gregg Popovich is not worried about players forming super teams during the Olympics: I do not participate in these discussions

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