Posted: Mon December 9, 2013 10:16AM; Updated: Fri December 13, 2013 1:03PM

My Sportsman: Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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The San Diego Spurs are one of the best-coached teams in the NBA, largely due to Gregg Popovich.
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the best-coached teams in the NBA, largely due to Gregg Popovich.
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for 2013's Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 16. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by a former Sportsman recipient.

When I was presented with Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award in 1985, I was absolutely thrilled. Though, without a doubt, my 19 All-Star appearances stand out as one of my most prized accomplishments -- a tribute to my consistency and longevity -- winning Sportsman was truly special, as well. The award symbolizes more than just excellence on the court; it represents the effect that the athlete has on the society around him or her. It was truly a special moment for me to be honored in the same fashion as some of my sports heroes and to be selected from among so many accomplished athletes of my day.

So when asked who I feel best embodies the characteristics of a Sportsman this year -- a person whose presence has had a distinct impact in sports and beyond -- I thought of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich is a fine example of what the award represents. He is a great teacher of the game and has been a phenomenal competitor in the coaching ranks. Throughout his career he has racked up an impressive four NBA championship titles, among other accolades. I think that the leadership Popovich has shown is a great example of consistency over a long period of time within the sport. The fact that the Spurs are one of the best-coached teams in the league is a testament to Popovich's consistency, talent and ability to manage his players. While there are numerous coaches who deserve to be recognized for their work on the sidelines, Popovich stands out because he has been able to get the most from his players on a consistent basis.

That is why, for his coaching excellence, it is Gregg Popovich for whom I proudly cast my vote for Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year honors.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's official autographed items are now available on Amazon throughout the holiday season.

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