Team USA basketball has a head coaching vacancy now that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has announced he will not return to coach the squad. San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich is one of the best basketball coaches on the planet. Seems like a perfect fit, right? Popovich certainly sounds excited about the possibility of coaching superstars like Derrick Rose, James Harden, LeBron James and Kevin Durant in international competition (via The San Antonio Express-News):
"Anybody would feel honored to have their name mentioned as far as the Olympic movement is concerned," he said. "There are a lot of people who can fill that role. That goes without saying. Anybody would feel humbled and honored to even be talked about in that regard."
Krzyzewski set the bar high during his time with Team USA by compiling a 62-1 record, leading the team to two gold medals at the Olympics and bringing home the 2010 FIBA World Championship. Popovich was last affiliated with USA basketball in 2004 as an assistant coach for Larry Brown's underachieving squad, but it's hard to argue with Pop's resume.
The 64-year-old coach owns a 892-413 regular season record (.684 winning percentage) as coach of the Spurs, a 118-77 playoff record, four NBA Championships (1998-99, 02-03, 04-05, 06-07) and two NBA Coach of the Year awards (2002-03, 2011-12). The Spurs currently own the best record in the NBA at 45-14, and the team is primed for yet another deep run into the playoffs thanks to precise execution on both ends of the floor.
Team USA does not need to play the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship thanks to the automatic 2014 World Cup bid they earned by winning the 2012 Olympic gold medal. They need to win in 2014 to guarantee a spot in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. If they don't win the 2014 World Cup, they will need to play in 2015 FIBA Americas.
As for whether the interest is mutual, here's what Team USA spokesman Craig Miller had to say when asked about the possibility of Popovich coaching the team:
Mller: I think it's pretty obvious with the success he's had in the NBA and additionally, his experiences with USA basketball in the past."— Maximum Sports (@MaxSportsSA) February 26, 2013
More in the NBA: