Gregg Popovich doesn't do long form interviews very often, so when the San Antonio Spurs head coach blesses the mic, it's important to listen. Wednesday, the Dan LeBatard Show (scroll down to the on demand section to listen) in Miami had former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy on as a guest host and he convinced his friend Pop to come on and speak with SVG, LeBatard and co-host Jon "Stogotz" Weiner. Despite his surly persona, Pop is a really funny guy when not caught during between quarter interviews or right before or after a game.
Van Gundy, who went through Hell with the Dwight Howard situation last season, asked Pop what his secret is to avoiding all the drama that hits several great teams.
"You know I think the first thing is that we’re just lucky because it’s a small market. You know, anything that happens in a bigger market you hear about it. When I go to a press conference like shootaround in the morning or tonight before the game it might be like 1 ½ people there. You know, so it’s like easy for us because it’s small market. Secondly we had guys over the years that are pretty, you know, they’re no better than anybody else, but their personalities are such that they don’t really look for the limelight. You know Tim Duncan, the last time he talked to me he was three months ago."
That's probably not a total exaggeration. Obviously they've talked since training camp has started, but I don't imagine once Duncan got his contract signed he and Pop saw much of each other over the summer. Unless Pop babysat for Duncan's kids, which would just be awesome to see. Here's a couple of other highlights:
Pop on sideline interviews:
Pop: I know. I’m a jerk. I’m going to go ahead and admit it publicly to the whole world. I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do. The quarter ends and you just got outscored by 12 points or they had 8 offensive rebounds and the question will be you just got outrebounded by “x” amount of rebounds, what are you gonna do about it?” and I say “I don’t know, I’m going to make a trade during the timeout? I don’t know, I’m gonna do drills here for a while by the time the game starts. I don’t know I’m not gonna do anything. I’m going to go back to the bench and hope we play better. I don’t know how to answer. So sue me for being stupid and not having an answer to the question.
Stugotz: Keep doing it that way. It’s wildly entertaining Pop.
Pop: It entertains everyone but my wife. When I get home she says “Jeez, why are you so mean? You’re a jerk. People hate you.” I say “I’m sorry, honey. I gotta do better the next time.”
LeBatard: So wait a minute, Gregg Popovich comes home and he gets lectured by his wife about misbehaving with Craig Sager?
Pop: And there’s no exaggeration. Did you see that guy, honey? Did you see him?! All you have to do is see him and you know why I answered the way I did.” “That’s no excuse, it’s no excuse. You’re a grown man. Show some maturity.” I said “I can’t. I can’t do it.” So there I am.
Pop and Stan Van Gundy on coaching against each other:
SVG: Actually this is my final question to you: We played against each other probably 14 times or so, how many times do you think you were able to successfully run the same play out of the timeout where we’d go to the pick and roll and Ginobili drives away baseline, makes the pass across the baseline, you hit a three. Now, you can say you respect me but you must’ve said to your assistants at some point “Do you think that SOB is ever gonna figure out that play? (laughter erupts)
Pop: The reason why you can run it is because neither you nor I or anyone else knows exactly what Ginobili is gonna do. So you’re off the hook because it’s Ginobili. It’s not me, it’s Ginobili.
The interview lasted about ten minutes and is absolutely worth a listen. Pop also gives his thoughts on the team to beat in the NBA this year, how much wine he currently owns and chimes in the Dwight Howard saga from a year ago.