With locker room tension high one season, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had a hilarious way to ease tensions with Stephen Jackson before a game.
Some coaches just know how to connect with their players no matter their personality type. Stephen Jackson wasn’t always the easiest to deal with in the locker room during his time with the San Antonio Spurs, but Gregg Popovich still found ways to keep things light every now and then.
In a recent episode of All the Smoke hosted by Jackson and Matt Barnes, DeMar DeRozan joined to talk about his NBA career when the conversation shifted to Coach Popovich. As would be expected, DeRozan had nothing but glowing comments about the future Hall of Fame coach.
“It was a great, simple transition,” said DeRozan. “After my first 20 games, Pop would always call me after the game before I even got home and give me certain advice that I needed. Take it easy. Take it slow. Don’t worry about this. He gives a different dynamic as a coach.”
Stephen Jackson, who had two separate stints in San Antonio, didn’t have quite as blissful a relationship with Popovich all the time. But as DeRozan revealed, Pop had a classic story about Jackson that he still tells to this day. Talking to Jackson, DeMar told the story.
“Pop told me a story about how y’all had just gotten in an argument,” said DeRozan. “Before the [next] game, he played your music video in the locker room in front of everybody to make light of the whole situation.”
The story drew laughter from all three on the show, and Jackson’s further details just made the story even funnier.
“He had pulled me out of the game last game so I was mad,” began Jackson. “I show up to shootaround and practice the next day [with] attitude. Don’t want to be there. I ain’t say nothing to him all day. Tim [Duncan] was trying to get me out of it. We sit down and I got the mug on. Video comes on and it was one of my rap videos. Everybody busted out laughing.”
The two then discussed the evil genius tendencies of Coach Pop, who’s able to find any little way to connect and make things right with any type of personality.
“He knew what he was doing because it got me out of it,” said Jackson. “He’s a genius at that [expletive].” “That’s my point to speak on Pop on how [expletive] much of a genius he is,” agreed DeRozan. “Now all of a sudden, you forgot the whole situation.”
As much as some of us like to question Coach Pop’s lineups and rotations, there’s no denying how brilliant he is at connecting with his players on and off the court.
The full 75-minute conversation with DeRozan can be seen above, courtesy of Showtime Basketball’s YouTube channel, and I highly recommend it.