The Pistons — Retrospective of Pop’s rival head coaches

Pistons — Pop's rival head coaches
Credit: | Pistons — Pop’s rival head coaches

Pop took over, the Pistons have had fourteen different head coaches.

As previously noted, over his twenty-eight years as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich has faced up against 307 different NBA coaches, according to an article headlined “Pop’s Incredible Longevity.”

Give or take one or two ejections, Pop has coached the Spurs continuously since Bob Hill was fired in 1996. The Spurs take on the Detroit Pistons tonight.

Doug Collins was Pop’s first coach against the formidable Motor City from 1995 until 1998. After three years as Detroit’s head coach, he was sacked, and his assistant Alvin Gentry took over.

Beginning his NBA coaching career as an assistant in San Antonio, Gentry guided the Pistons to a 29-21 record in the truncated 1999 lockout season after concluding the 1998 campaign. He began the centenary season, but George Irvine took his position towards the end of the campaign.

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Although Irvine continued for the 2000–01 campaign, his career was all but gone with the 32–50 record.

Rick Carlisle played with the Pistons from 2001 to 2003. He had two consecutive seasons of 50–32 points, a Central Division championship, and postseason trips. In addition, Carlisle won the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2002.

After Carlisle left, Pop’s mentor Larry Brown took over. Brown recorded consecutive 54-28 seasons and made appearances in the Finals. The Pistons upset a loaded Laker team that included All-Stars in 2004. Pop played his mentor in the 2005 NBA Finals the following year. The series was won by the Spurs, but only after they used all seven games.

Brown toyed with the idea of switching teams following his two Finals appearances. Consequently, the Pistons acquired him and brought in Flip Saunders. Up until now, Pop had never seen an opponent coach in Detroit with as much consistency as Saunders had throughout his three seasons there.

Michael Curry (2008–2009), who had spent two spells as a player for the Pistons, came after Flip. Avery Johnson was being negotiated in, but the negotiations broke down.

Following six losing seasons, a succession of managers led by John Kuester (2009–2011), Lawrence Frank (2011–2013), Maurice Cheeks, and John Loyer (2013–2014) took over. Stan Van Gundy was hired in 2014–2018, and during his one winning season, the Pistons made their first postseason appearance since 2009.

In order to make place for Dwane Casey, Van Gundy was relieved of his responsibilities as president of basketball operations and head coach.

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After being sacked by the Toronto Raptors and winning the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year award, Casey relocated to Detroit. Since Chuck Daly, he had the longest stay at five seasons.

During Casey’s five years, the Pistons only qualified for one playoff round due to an apparently never-ending cycle of rebuilding. He works in the Pistons front office this season.

The former Spurs player Monty Williams is leading the Pistons into tonight’s game. Williams worked with the Silver & Black as a staff intern as well during the 2005 Championship campaign.

The Spurs’ greatest opportunity to win comes against the Pistons, who are now 3-33.