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Spurs' Gregg Popovich earns 1,336th victory, breaks all-time NBA wins record

Spurs' Gregg Popovich earns 1,336th victory, breaks all-time NBA wins record
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, shown Aug. 5, 2021, moved ahead of Don Nelson after the Spurs' 104-102 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night at AT&T Center in San Antonio. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

March 11 (UPI) -- Legendary San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has surpassed Don Nelson as the NBA's all-time winningest coach.

Popovich moved ahead of Nelson after the Spurs' 104-102 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night at AT&T Center in San Antonio. After the victory, Nelson congratulated Popovich in a video posted to the Spurs' official Twitter account.

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"Hey, 'Pop.' It's your old buddy 'Nellie' here. I just want to tell you how proud I am of all your accomplishments, and the wonderful things you've done for basketball worldwide," Nelson said in the video. "But I'm most proud of what you're about to accomplish now, which is to put me in second place in all-time wins.

"I'm so proud of you for doing it. I couldn't wait for this day to happen, and I just want you to know -- as one of my best friends in life -- I just wish you the best for your remaining years in the NBA."

The 73-year-old Popovich is in his 26th season with the Spurs, the longest tenure of any head coach in all four of the U.S. major professional sports leagues.

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Popovich, who was labeled one of the NBA's top 15 greatest head coaches of all time in February, has won five championships and captured three Coach of the Year awards.

In addition, he had a streak of 22 consecutive playoff appearances while coaching the Spurs. He also led the U.S. men's basketball team to a gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and was an assistant coach on the bronze-winning U.S. team at the 2004 Games in Athens.

"Gregg Popovich's success with the Spurs is unprecedented in our league so it's only fitting that he now holds the record for most career wins," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

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"His leadership and unwavering commitment to the game are widely admired by generations of players and coaches alike. Congratulations to Coach Pop on this latest achievement in his legendary career."

Popovich became head coach of the Spurs in 1996, and he has remained in that role ever since. He has compiled a 1,336-694 career regular-season record.

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