If you take a closer look at the NBA head coaching landscape, Gregg Popovich’s fingerprints are stamped all over. Many of his former assistants have become head coaches of his, and other coaches throughout the league are heavily influenced by his NBA mastermind over his 27 years.
The newest head coach in Popovich’s coaching tree in the league is Jack Vaughan. The two have a special relationship.
The Brooklyn Nets head coach was in the final stages of his 12-year playing career in the NBA. In his final three seasons as a player, he played under his 73-year-old head coach in San Antonio. He appeared in his 64 games for the Spurs in his NBA Championship in his 2006-07 season. After two seasons, Vaughn was 33 years old at the time of his last season with the Spurs (2008-09).
Deep in his heart, he knew his father’s time was catching up with him. He prided himself on being “the fittest man” on his roster. What Vaughn honestly admitted was unsustainable at the time. He also balanced raising young children.
“I was finishing my career. I told him openly and honestly that I wasn’t sure I could do it anymore.”
After his final season, Bourne took a gap year away from the game. That year’s off marked the beginning of the next chapter in his life, and Popovich attended from afar.
The Nets head coach said, “I’m going to take a year off with my family to see if I want to keep playing or if I want to move on to something else.” [Popovich] You said you could always come, shadow, follow, be around us, and figure it out along the way. “
Bourne returned to the Spurs after a gap year and served as an assistant to Popovich for two years (2010-12). For Popovich, who holds the record for the most wins in the NBA by his coach, Vaughn’s immense knowledge of intangibles and the game has always stood out to him. These tools, combined with the 47-year-old Rolle’s player perspective and experience, are the perfect combination to make him the head coach of the NBA.
“From what I’ve seen of him, he’s just one of those guys with a naturally high basketball IQ who knows what’s going on,” Popovich told Vaughn. “He wasn’t the most talented player in the world. Normally they have to figure out how to make a career and what they do to be important to the team.
“What’s important to the team is what makes you a valuable teammate. You can see a lot of people you’re coaching right now. He’s one of them. He’s essentially time-space, clock, He knew what was going on with the score, generating the respect of his teammates because he set up all sorts of things the way he planned an example.”
Before Vaughan removed his short-term interim tag, he only held one full-time head coaching position in the league. He was released from his duties after serving as the Orlando Magic’s head coach for two and a half years. He compiled his Reconstruction Magic overall record to 58-158. After a hard blow, he returned to San Antonio again, serving as a scout for the 2015-16 season.
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After a brief one-year tenure as a scout, he headed to the East Coast to join the Nets as his original assistant. Head coach Kenny Atkinson’s staff in 2016.
Unfortunately for Bourne, he was again overlooked in the Brooklyn head coach search. This time it was for Steve Nash, who was named head coach of the Nets in September 2020. Before staying in Brooklyn as one of the lead assistant coaches for the NBA, Vaughn interviewed other head coaches for vacancies.
Just seven games into the 2022-23 season, Vaughn returned to the head coaching chair after the franchise parted ways with Nash. only four games (2-2) gave him the chance he had been waiting for so patiently: to become a full-time NBA coach again.
Popovich said in a meeting with Bourne after being named the Nets’ full-time head coach. “He’s a good friend. We spent a lot of time together. .
“He’s a quiet man. He’s very contemplative. He’ll ponder things and have a kind of work that creates respect. He doesn’t do anything unnecessary. He’s a standard.” He said, “He knows what he’s doing. I don’t know much about whiskers.”
Since taking over as head coach, Vaughan has led a massive turnaround with a 23-7 record (21-5 since the “alternate head coach” tag was removed). In fact, according to Elias, he holds the most 30-game starts by a Nets head coach.
Even better, he led his team to 10 or more wins in a row, making him the first head coach from the same franchise to appear in every 10-game win streak. 1998 Phoenix Suns. Vaughn, who has the Nets’ second-best winning streak in franchise history (12 games), was the player in his 2005-06 season to tie the franchise-record winning streak (14 games).
“He’s the reason I’m in this position,” Vaughan said of Popovich’s influence on himself. “He saw something in me as a player, saw something when I was done playing, welcomed me into that organization, shared an office with him, and made sure he was a regular season player. games, playoff games, shootouts.
“To see how he cared for my family and how he is still a mentor to me, I called him and told him that my kids, my wife, my job, all of the above. I wouldn’t be here without him.”
The two head coaches shared a long hug after leading Brooklyn to a victory over San Antonio on Monday night. For Vaughn, it was a hug with a close friend that “means the world” to him.
“It’s always been special and tough to coach him, because I look up to him. Harsh words. I love him,” Vaughn said of the post-match exchange and Popovich. “He meant the world to me.
“I know how important he is to a lot of people in the league. Families have changed. My family has changed because of him. My children will grow up differently because of him.” Done.I will never forget it.He’s an incredibly caring person.You don’t get to see that part of him in the media all the time.Hugs are real.Words are real.So , is a really, really special person in my life.”