Regardless of which team an NBA fan roots for, it's likely safe to say most all of them would grudgingly admit Gregg Popovic of the San Antonio Spurs is far and away the best head coach. Not only does he know the intricacies of the game, Coach Pop has a magical way of connecting with his players. At the same time he treats them with great respect, they also know they have to play "Spurs basketball" within Pop's system or -- look out. Not only will Popovich get on an errant player, but so will his teammates.
There can be little logical argument that over the years this method has not yielded terrific results. No, the Spurs don't win the NBA championship every year -- nobody does anymore -- but they're always right there in the hunt.
Quick question. When's the last time you can remember the Spurs being a bad team? It's like they never go into rebuild mode -- they just add a piece here and there and keep on rolling.
Yet few would also doubt Gregg Popovich considers much of the media to be no more than a nuisance. A necessary evil, if you will. He understands they have a job to do, but doesn't like it much when they get up in his face asking their typical stupid questions.
True, Popovich is no doubt under an NBA mandate to give such mini-interviews, else be fined by Peanut Head, AKA commissioner Adam Silver and his minions.
Yet yours truly gets a huge kick out of how Pop can fulfill his obligations while still pretty much blowing off a moronic talking head.
At half time in the recently concluded game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a garden variety sideline reporter rushed up to Popovich for a quick interview. After listening to a couple of sentences with evidently no question in sight -- Pop came up with a beauty.
"Are you here to tell me things I already know?" The reporter had to quickly reload and try a different tack.
So he asked why the Spurs were having a bit of difficulty scoring points. I could hardly wait for what was going to come back.
Basically, Popovich said, "A couple guys aren't shooting very well". Then the coup de grace.
Referencing Jack Nicholson's famous line in the movie A Few Good Men, Pop said, "I'll ask them nicely to shoot better. Anything else?" The yappy head with the microphone and cameraman had been put in his place. He could think of nothing further to say.
And that's the way it should be. PhD's that don't want to give interviews, particularly to others that are obviously still at the third grade level should not be forced to do so. Pop's team was in a tight game against the Cavs at the time and likely had some serious second half strategy to go over with his team in the locker room. A couple minutes wasted answering stupid questions was time taken away from the short half time break to get things sorted out.
The Spurs would go on to win that game rather convincingly. Now at 35-6, there can also be no doubt Coach Pop's system is still working in a big way. It's about "team", not mouthing off to the press.
Consider some of the Spurs players.
All have been, or still are among the best in the league. When's the last time you saw or heard any of them volunteering to goon it up in front of a camera? It doesn't happen.
Guys like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and currently Kobe Bryant couldn't seem to get ENOUGH of the cameras and personal attention. The "look at me" syndrome. It was, and is classless. They were already making obscene salaries and had whored themselves out to endorse various products for even MORE money. But some people just can never seem to get enough of the limelight. William Shatner is a case in point. The former Captain Kirk will hawk anything to keep his mug on TV. Tiger Woods is in a class by himself when it comes to this. These people had/have absolutely no shame.
Another quick question. Does anybody really run out and buy a certain brand of foot/body powder because some big ugly goof like Shaq says he uses it? Hey, if their pitchman is a doofus, do you want to rub that stuff all over yourself?
So here's to Gregg Popovich, He just does his job, is the best at it, and could care less about personal attention. In fact, he does everything in his power, short of running afoul of Peanut Head, to avoid it.
And I, for one, truly appreciate the delicious irony when some idiot TV reporter gets embarrassed by the person they are interviewing -- rather than the other way around.
Let's get real. The TV folks have spent hours in make-up and wardrobe before we ever see them on camera. Everything is just as perfect in the "lipstick on a pig world" as their behind the scenes miracle workers can make it. Plus, they've rehearsed their lines prior to going "live". Then they'll run up to a coach that has spent the last hour pacing up and down the sidelines, arguing with officials, and making a thousand different decisions regarding game strategy. He's sweaty, still in mental overdrive thinking ahead, and now he has to deal with some pretty boy/girl sticking a microphone in his face while breathlessly either pointing out the already obvious, or asking duh-worthy questions.
Yep, add it all up and definitely count me a Gregg Popovich fan. He's just doing what so many others in a similar position would like to -- but don't have the brains and/or balls necessary to pull it off.
Truly a one-of-a-kind and a class act indeed...........