San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today.
Popovich, who also earned the honor in 2002-03, totaled 467 points, including 77 first-place votes, from a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The award was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.
In his 16th season as head coach of the Spurs, Popovich guided San Antonio to a league-tying-best 50-16 (.758) record. With Popovich at the helm, the Spurs ranked second in the league in scoring (103.7 ppg) and point-differential (+7.2). In the second half of the season, however, the Spurs were the league’s most dominant team, posting an NBA-best 26-6 (.813) record while averaging league highs in scoring (108.3 ppg) and point-differential (+10.8). In the process, Popovich guided the Spurs to their 15th consecutive postseason berth, which is the longest active streak in the NBA.
The Spurs finished the season winning 10 straight games, 24 of their last 27 and 38 of their last 45. San Antonio won at least 50 games for the 13th consecutive season – all under Popovich’s tenure – surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers (1979-80 to 1990-91) for the longest streak in NBA history. The Spurs also set a franchise mark with three double-digit winning streaks.
Popovich was named the Coach of the Month in February and March, giving him 14 Coach of the Month awards in his career, the most in league annals. His back-to-back wins marked the second time Popovich earned consecutive coaching honors (November and December, 2010).
The longest tenured coach with the same team in all four major professional sports, Popovich holds the best winning percentage of the longest tenured coaches in the other three major professional sports (.679). In addition, his 847 victories with the Spurs ranks second all-time in NBA history for most wins with one team (Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz, 1,127)
Popovich also supports the NBA Coaches for Kids program, a league initiative in partnership with the NBA Coaches Association and Boys & Girls Clubs of America launched during the 2008-09 NBA season. To date, the program has provided more than 155,000 Boys & Girls Club members with the chance to attend NBA games. Youth participants also have the opportunity to meet with NBA coaches, general managers and athletic trainers and learn the fundamentals of the game, the values of sportsmanship and teamwork, and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
The Coach of the Year Award is named after legendary coach and Hall of Famer Red Auerbach who guided the Celtics to nine NBA Championships. In 1996, Auerbach was honored as one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History as the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau finished second in the voting. Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel finished third. Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins finished fourth. And Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers finished fifth.