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Iconic coach Popovich signs five-year NBA deal with Spurs

San Antonio Spurs coach and president of basketball operations Gregg Popovich, an iconic bench boss at 74, has signed a new five-year contract with the NBA club, the team announced Saturday.

The deal secures Popovich as a guiding force for years to come for 19-year-old French prodigy Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4 (2.24m) center taken by the Spurs last month with the top pick in the NBA Draft.

Popovich has guided the Spurs to five NBA titles since becoming coach of the team in 1996, a span that makes him the longest-tenured coach in any major US sports league.

He also coached a US team of NBA stars to gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Popovich’s return was announced in a two-sentence statement that didn’t reveal financial terms, but ESPN reported his deal as coach and top personnel decision maker was worth more than $80 million, citing unnamed sources.

It would surpass the six-year deal worth $78.5 million that Monty Williams reportedly signed to coach the Detroit Pistons.

Popovich, a three-time NBA Coach of the Year, is the winningest coach in NBA history with a career record of 1,366-761.

Popovich is well known for his work with big men and global talent, giving him a perfect resume for easing Wembanyama’s introduction to life in the NBA.

He has won titles with prior big man top draft picks David Robinson and Tim Duncan and with international talent, having helped France’s Tony Parker and Argentina star Manu Ginobili become NBA stars as well as champions.

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