Rick Carlisle reaches a milestone, and gets soaked for his troubles
The Pacers coach won his 900th NBA game, moving him into 14th place all time. And he's not close to finished.
The water came from every corner of the locker room, Rick Carlisle’s players dousing the coach on the occasion of his 900th career victory. With Monday’s rousing victory over a relatively quiet Victor Wembanyama and a San Antonio team playing on a back-to-back, Carlisle moved up to 14th in all-time coaching victories. Now he needs just 35 more to move into 13th (Dick Motta), 38 to move into 12th (Red Auerbach) and 44 to reach 11th (Bill Fitch, his coach during the glory years in Boston).
“You can tell my hair’s a little out of place, right?” Carlisle said, patting his bald pate.
With Monday’s victory, Carlisle is 900-796 and is second only to Gregg Popovich (1,396 wins) among active coaches. That’s rare air. And it’s the kind of number that will, at some point, conclude with him getting a bust in Springfield, Mass. He’s one of 11 men ever to win a title both as a player and a coach.
“No question (he’s a Hall of Famer) in my mind,” said Pacers assistant Jim Boylen. “It’s a matter of when, not if. Whenever he gets in, it’s long overdue.”
I was talking to Boylen Friday night, doing some legwork before Carlisle reached this milestone. Boylen was a consultant here last year and is an assistant coach on the staff this year. He also was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 2018-2020.
“I think his greatest attribute is, he’s an unbelievable listener,” Boylen said. “He’s got that skill, the ability to listen, to be inclusive. He wants opinions. He’s not scared of differing opinions. He’s very open to what’s best for the team. He’s concerned about getting it right, not necessarily being right.
“Pop (Popovich) used to say it’s cool when guys get over themselves; Rick is over himself. He's just worried about winning and teaching and coaching. He challenges you to be prepared, to have an answer and he expects you to be ahead. He’s got great energy, sharp as a tack. The competitive spirit is there, maybe as strong as ever.”
Here's what a smiling Popovich said before the game:
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