Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, compare and contrast

Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr have several things in common. Both are legendary NBA coaches who coached their teams to multiple championship. Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs have won five. Kerr’s Golden State Warriors have won three. Kerr played on two of Popovich’s championship teams.

Both are outspoken about politics. Both were severe critics of Donald Trump. I can’t think of any coach in any sport who attacked Trump as vigorously as these two did.

There are differences between them, though. Kerr was a top college basketball player and a good pro. Popovich had a good college career at the Air Force Academy, but wasn’t a pro caliber player.

In addition, Kerr comes across as a good guy (politics aside). Popovich comes across as something of a jerk. These are just impressions from the outside, though. I don’t pretend to know what either man is really like.

Now, Popovich and Kerr have something else in common. Both coaches have missed the NBA playoffs for the second year in a row. Both were eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies this week, as they tried to play their way into the playoffs under the new NBA format.

Does this mean that one or both of these coaches isn’t really outstanding? Of course not. It means, I think, that in the NBA, coaching is somewhat overrated.

Are Popovich and Kerr somewhat overrated? Not Popovich. I have seen him coach brilliantly in too many playoff games and develop too many players to think he doesn’t deserve all of the credit he’s received. Plus, Popovich has won two out of every three NBA games he’s coached in during a 23-year career.

Kerr might be a bit overrated. He inherited a Golden State team on the verge of breaking out. And after they won their first championship, Kevin Durant fell into the team’s lap, all but ensuring more titles.

Kerr is 56 years old (Popovich is 72). He has many more years of coaching ahead of him if he wants to remain in the profession. Maybe he’ll get back to the top, maybe not.

Popovich stayed at the top for two decades. That’s the difference.

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