NBA: Gregg Popovich named coach for West team at Feb 14 All-Star Game

Gregg Popovich reacts during the NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns
Gregg Popovich reacts during the NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix SunsPHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - San Antonio Spurs handler Gregg Popovich will coach the Western Conference squad in next month's 65th NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Wednesday, ending some suspense about the job.

The Feb 14 match-up of elite East and West lineups will be played in Toronto, the first time the game has been staged outside the United States.

Coaches with the best records in each conference on January 31 are picked to guide the East and West clubs, but no coach may have the job two years in a row.

However this season, it was interim coach Luke Walton who led the Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 win-loss record prior to the return last Friday of coach Steve Kerr after back surgeries.

There was talk Walton would get the nod as Golden State owns the NBA's best record at 41-4, but Kerr has returned and he is ineligible for the coaching honour because he guided last year's West All-Stars.

That means the Spurs, 38-7, are assured of the second-best record in the NBA come Sunday and so Popovich, a five-time NBA champion, will guide the West All-Stars for the fourth time in his career.

Popovich, 66, coached the West in the 2005, 2011 and 2013 NBA All-Star Games, winning the two most recent appearances. Popovich has been named to take over the USA Basketball national team program after Mike Krzyzewski following this year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.