Captain (Sep.) Gregg Popovich is currently the head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) San Antonio Spurs, leading the team to five World Championships (’99, ’03, ’05, ’07, ’14), making them one of the most successful organizations in American professional sports today.
Popovich attributes his competitive spirit, determination and drive back to his humble beginnings at the United States Air Force Academy. “I give the Academy a lot of credit for instilling certain qualities and beliefs that still remain to this day,” he said. “Being dedicated and having a work ethic where you work to be persistent in trying to achieve a goal and not faltering in that regard.”
In 1966 he was recruited to play basketball for the Academy and started all four years. Following graduation he served his five years on active duty, during which he toured eastern Europe and the Soviet Union with the U.S. Armed Forces Basketball Team. Popovich returned to the Air Force Academy as an assistant coach in 1973 and remained there for six years. He was hired by the Spurs as an assistant coach in 1988. Popovich became the head coach in 1996, making him the longest-tenured active head coach (18 years) in all four major American sports leagues.