Spurs coach Popovich: I’ll retire when Duncan does

Is the San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty about to come to an end?

Not if you look at their current playoff matchup, as they are up 3-0 in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

But comments that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made to the San Antonio Express-News on Friday certainly indicate the man in charge knows when he will step away from the bench — even if that day isn’t coming soon.

When talking about the play of his star forward, 37-year-old Tim Duncan, Popovich stated that he would be ready to finish his NBA coaching career when Duncan ends his playing days.

“He’s a mentally unique individual in that he’s able to sustain the year-round workout regimen, both physically and (diet) wise,” Popovich said, according to the newspaper. “He has an unbelievable feeling of responsibility for his place in the program and wants to sustain that performance that he brings night after night.

“When he doesn’t think he can, he’ll stop. It might be in the middle of a game. I can see him walking of the court saying ‘Nah, I’m not pulling my weight anymore, I’m gone.’ And he’ll walk. And I’ll be right behind him, like this. No pride, no nothing.”

Now when that day could come, nobody knows. 

Popovich has been very good at managing Duncan’s minutes over the past few seasons, keeping him fresh for the end of the season and the playoffs … and lengthening his career.

Duncan and Popovich have put together one of the most impressive runs in NBA history, winning four NBA championships since 1999 (the last three with teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili).

The day Duncan and Popovich leave the NBA will be a sad one as the game will lose one of the greatest players and one of the greatest coaches in league history.

But based on the way the Spurs are rolling right now — and the youthful step Duncan is showing while dominating younger players such as Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol — it doesn’t look like that day will come, at least for a little while.