Sean Elliott played for two of the most successful and respected head coaches in basketball history.
As a consensus All-American at the University of Arizona he and Lute Olson guided the Wildcats to the Final Four in 1988. Eleven years later Elliott helped Gregg Popovich win his first of four NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs.
Elliott, now a television analyst for the organization, believes Popovich will be the x-factor in the leading San Antonio to number five.
“Pops has been the real difference in what I call the ‘old Spurs’ and the ‘new Spurs,” Elliott told Brad Cesmat in a recent interview on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “He came in and implemented a different kind of culture. A culture that’s predicated and winning and accountability.”
He also believes ‘Pops’ has adapted with ever-changing times in the NBA. He’s limited the minutes of Tim Duncan and developed young players Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter. They’re the perfect complement to all-everything point guard Tony Parker and another long-time Spur, Manu Ginobili.
Popovich’s greatest coaching strength could be his fairness and honesty towards his players.
“He treats the number one guy Tim Duncan like he treats the 12th guy,” Elliott explained to Cesmat. “If you’re the sixth, seventh, eighth guy on the bench and Pops jumps on you one game how can you complain? You can’t because he’s jumping on the greatest power forward of all time…Tony Parker, [too]. I’ve heard him shout things to Manu Ginobili across the court things that are absolutely unholy.”
Elliott says Popovich is also shrewd with his in-game adjustments and tweaking his lineups as he sees accordingly depending on the situation presented.
It all adds up to one of the greatest masterminds in NBA history. In March he became only the second coach in NBA history to win 900 regular season games with one organization.