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Thu, 03 May 2012 03:42 AM EDT

San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who led an aging team through a compressed schedule to the best record in the Western Conference, was named NBA coach of the year for the 2nd time in his 16-year career. Baseball betting lines

Leading vets Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili thru the grind of the 66-game, lockout-shortened season, Popovich got the Spurs to a 50-16 record (.758), tied with the Chicago Bulls for elite in the NBA. Baseball odds

“The simple fact they allow me to coach them the way that I coach them surprises me on a regular basis,” Popovich announced at the news meeting in San Antonio announcing the honor. “Timmy sets the tone on the floor for our players. Win or lose, they do it with class and they do it the right way.”

Popovich, the dean of NBA coaches, is the longest-tenured coach with the same team between the 122 NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB professional organizations. His 847 victories with the Spurs ranks 2nd all-time for most wins with one team behind Jerry Sloan’s 1,127 with the Utah Jazz.

The Spurs lead their Western Conference playoff opener 1-0 in opposition to the Utah Jazz, with Game 2 on Wednesday in San Antonio.

Popovich totaled 467 points, including 77 1st-place votes, from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Last season’s coach of the year, the Chicago Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau, came in 2nd (53 1st-place, 315 points), followed by the Indiana Pacers’ Frank Vogel (7 1st-place, 161), the Memphis Grizzlies’ Lionel Hollins (3 first-place, 50 and the Boston Celtics’ Doc Rivers (1 first-place, 26).

Popovich additionally won coach of the year honors for 2002-03, when he led the Spurs to a 60-22 regular-season record (.732) and then on to their 2nd of 4 NBA championships, doing it “Pop’s Way.”

“That’s probably been overblown,” Popovich expounded of references to his winning philosophy.

“I think we’ve just been graced with folks who recognize their priorities, very team-oriented. Our organization is also blessed, as I’ve related many times, with phenomenal good fortune to draft David Robinson and follow that up with Tim Duncan. That could be a couple decades of very possible accomplishment, unless you screw it up. It’s hard to take credit when the conditions have gone your way so firmly.”

The compressed schedule was anticipated to take its toll on older teams, such as the Spurs, but Popovich claimed it did not impact his philosophy.

“Every NBA team had the same issue as far as creating rookies, bringing in independent agents, rounding out the team,” he revealed. “Leadership here from Tony, Manu and Tim has been impressive. They set the tone and were very engaged.”

Popovich was aggressive as ever in keeping his stars healthy. He eagerly surrendered 11-game lucky streaks two times to stay away from wear and tear on Duncan, Ginobili and Tony Parker, keeping them on the bench or home altogether 4 times this year.

Duncan has called this Popovich’s best season between managing minutes and integrating the amateurs regardless of the condensed schedule.

“Timmy would like to get minutes,” Popovich claimed. “He’s just making an attempt to ingratiate himself.”

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