Coach of the Year

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
12:07
PM ET
Gregg PopovichKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAfter the crushing 2013 Finals, Popovich has led the Spurs to the league's best record.

Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich, Spurs


I don't like myself very much right now.

I'm pretty sure Gregg Popovich won't be too pleased with me, either, since I've made him my COY choice -- at the expense of Desert Cinderellas coach Jeff Hornacek -- for an award Pop doesn't even want to win.

Sorry, Pop. Couldn't help it.

Separating the top COY contenders was as brutal this season as ever, but Pop ultimately proved unignorable after leading the Spurs to the league's best record A) despite the lingering torment from last June's NBA Finals; B) with what was billed as their Last Chance To Make A Run roster for roughly the fifth straight season; and C) doing all that without a single player cracking most experts' MVP ballots, and amazingly while keeping all of his veteran stars' minutes down.

You can't say amazing enough with this guy.

Especially when you take note of all the coaches poised to lose out if Pop sways other voters like he did here.

Hornacek is making a run at 50 wins with a Suns of Anarchy squad that's filled with role players and wasn't supposed to win 25.

Then there's Chicago's Tom Thibodeau, who has the Bulls in pole position for the East's No. 3 seed despite a 12-18 start ... and what should have been morale-crushing early exits for Derrick Rose (knee) and Luol Deng (trade).

Want more?

What about Dwane Casey from the Atlantic Division champion Toronto Raptors?

Brooklyn's Jason Kidd, after all the early criticism, has merely overseen the best season in league history for a team that was at least 10 games under .500 on Dec. 31, as well as a 4-0 season sweep of the Miami Heat.

Charlotte's Steve Clifford, Portland's Terry Stotts and Dallas' Rick Carlisle likewise all got way more out of their teams than anyone expected.

The field is excruciatingly deep, as always, but Pop's season -- to his inevitable disgust -- trumps them all.

Narrowly but unavoidably.

I thought for sure that I'd be voting for Hornacek, since you could also make the case that the Spurs and Bulls do what they do every year, but San Antonio's litany of achievements without any award-winning individual seasons from Spurs players left us with no choice.

Sorry, Pop.

Stein's ballot: 1. Gregg Popovich; 2. Jeff Hornacek; 3. Tom Thibodeau

October prediction: Doc Rivers

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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