One quarter of Popovich: Humble, Humorous, Unique


Fans love him for the way he acknowledges the community and has brought a winning professional culture to San Antonio. Players enjoy playing for him because he treats everyone exactly the same way, even his superstars. Some media members hold themselves on a pantheon of some sort if they get chewed out by him.

Who is he? Gregg Popovich of course.

The San Antonio Spurs head coach is known not only for his winning track record, but the humor he brings to an audience when answering media questions with indirect responses as he’s making the person who is asking the question, the headline of the next popular tweet, pre-game, post game, or even worse, in-game interview storyline.

However, Monday night was a rare occasion in Popovich’s media tenure. He sat on a live broadcast with the media and actually provided some commentary through the second quarter of the Spurs-Hawks Summer League game.

In his short stint on the NBATV broadcast, Popovich discussed a wide variety of topics: Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, Nando De Colo, and even the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of course, Pop delivered his comments in his own unique style. I tweeted some of his commentary via my Twitter handle. Enjoy.

On Kawhi Leonard

“He was really a surprise,” said Pop, “I didn’t think he’d pick it up (professional basketball) so quickly. He puts in work that is really really impressive.”

Boring Spurs?

Popovich said that he knows in the media the Spurs have always been perceived as boring. He didn’t care. He said he actually likes being apart of the most boring team in the history of basketball.

Deciphering interviews

Question from NBATV analyst: “Gregg, what type of ball players are you looking to add to your team?”

Pop: “None”

After saying none, Pop jokingly said he wasn’t used to answering questions during a game, because he’s so used to getting an interview done quickly. He further explained that as of right now, the Spurs are basically stacked with a full lineup. 

The Frenchmen

“I don’t know if I can coach three Frenchmen,” said Popovich jokingly of Nando De Colo joining the team.

Transitioning to longer responses

As the interview kept going, Pop was trying to stray away from answering questions shortly. 

“I’m treating this like an end of quarter interview.”

Discussing the Thunder

Popovich, whom is one of the most humble coaches in the league, gave all the credit to the Oklahoma City Thunder for winning the Western Conference Finals and made a key point of what the series came down to.

“In the last six minutes of the game, they (‪Thunder‬) did a better job of guarding us than we did guarding them.”

Popovich said the games were close throughout the series, but it was the Thunder’s ability to execute down the stretch on offense and limit the Spurs offensively that was a real factor in the series.

Pop put it quite simply.”
They just played their ass off and the better team won.” ‪

Lighting a fire under Diaw

When coach Pop was asked about what adding Diaw to the Spurs did for the team, coach Popovich praised Diaw for contributing so much in such little time. He thinks that Diaw can help the Spurs even more next season if he can start driving to the basket more and taking open shots. Pop said too many times Diaw defers with his passing, rather than attacking and being aggressive. He said this season he needs to “light a fire” under Diaw. 

Explaining the end of quarter interview

If you YouTube “Gregg Popovich”, you’re bound to find videos of him making reporters look like they’ve just seen their worst fears come to life in end-of-quarter interviews. The analysts of NBATV wanted to know why Pop handles those interviews that way and Pop had a good explanation.

“That end of the quarter thing,” said Popovich,  “you’ve got work to do.”

He explained that during the game, his mind is fully concentrated on the game and every moment in a timeout or at the end of the quarter, because it is a small time frame he doesn’t want to waste, so he can make sure his players are prepared before they go back into the game. Asking him to do an interview takes away from his duty to coach because he’s having to spare those precious seconds with a reporter instead of his own team.  Imagine if you were building your house. You wouldn’t want someone right next to you asking you questions as you’re on your roof trying to focus. You don’t mind answering questions before or after the process, but during it’s more of an agitation. Can you blame Pop for trying to hurry those interviews?

Who he is

As the interview was coming to an end, the reporter congratulated Pop on his recent coach of the year award. Popovich responded in a way that not many people with success would.

“When you’re coach of the year you shouldn’t lose four in a row,” Popovich said.

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Paul is an editor, writer and content manager for (@ProjectSpurs) and (@ATLeague_NBA). Paul is also the host of the Spurscast (@TheSpurscast). Paul has been a credentialed media member covering the San Antonio Spurs and NBA since 2011. Paul has been featured on numerous radio, tv, online and podcast shows.

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