San Antonio Spurs: Popovich’s coaching style translates to Team USA
By Dylan Carter
For San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, coaching style isn’t dictated by personnel – it carries over regardless of who is under his watch.
Coaching basketball is no easy task in general, but coaching professional basketball is a whole ‘nother level. The speed of the game is intensified in the NBA because it’s the pinnacle of the sport. Intensity heightens with higher stakes and higher contracts than any other professional basketball league consistently.
As a result, players are more inclined to negotiate their futures based on team-fit, friends on the roster and coaching style. Enter Gregg Popovich: five-time NBA champion and orchestrator of the San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty over the course of the last two decades. At 70 years old, Pop is just as poised and wholeheartedly committed to his craft as ever before.
With the Spurs, Pop is known for putting his players in the position to succeed by helping to capitalize on strengths and mask weaknesses, but there’s a lot more to his coaching style than meets the eye. He’s been known to take his teams on cultural excursions to discover other walks of life and provide perspective for the professional athletes under his guidance. Popovich is not solely coaching his players to be better basketball players – he’s coaching them to be better, more informed members of society.
Part of this process is establishing trust and openness with his players through team dinners, which have been well-documented over the course of his tenure as head coach in San Antonio. Most recently, Pop was caught playing the popular game “Heads Up” with the completed 12-man roster of Team USA at a team dinner with Spurs guard Derrick White to his immediate right.
Spurs fans, raise your hand if you want to play a game of "Heads Up" with Coach Pop! ?? #gospursgo #nba (via Myles Turner IG) pic.twitter.com/gRG4IHE1mP
— JeffGSpursZone (@JeffGSpursZone) August 30, 2019
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Indiana center and shot-blocking phenomenon Myles Turner posted a video of Pop and the team playing the game on his Instagram story just recently.
This is a testament to Pop’s unwavering dedication to family – although not necessarily his own flesh and blood. Whatever basketball team Gregg Popovich is in charge of is sure to host family values that emphasize coming together and, as he likes to put it, breaking bread at the end of the day.
Popovich is known to speak his mind and refrain from holding back on the hardwood – it’s his job to stay on top of his players. Still, he’s much more than the curmudgeon that his detractors would make him out to be. For as much as he cares about the on-court results, Pop cares about camaraderie carrying on away from the hardwood.
What’s the result of his care, you ask? Consistent winning basketball and lifelong friendships that transcend sport. Even in a differing style of basketball with the FIBA World Cup, this year’s group is primed for excellence in spite of a few unanticipated losses in the early going.