San Antonio Spurs News

26 Times Gregg Popovich's Greatness Went Beyond Basketball

Gregg Popovich
Gregg Popovich / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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Gregg Popovich / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

2. Coach Popovich Gives Touching Tribute to Craig Sager

Through his long time in the league, Gregg Popovich has formed close relationships with countless people from opposing coaches and players to members of the media. One such relationship bloomed with TNT's sideline reporter, Craig Sager.

Pop has made it a regular practice to give the media a hard time, and Sager was no exception.

Unfortunately, after a brave battle with acute myeloid leukemia that lasted over two years, Sager passed away in 2016 at age 65. Later that day, Coach Popovich shared a touching tribute from the heart for his long-time friend.

"If any of us could display half the courage he has...we'd be well off," said Popovich.

3. "The Next Guy That Misses a Free Throw Is Gonna Buy Me a New Car."

Even when tearing into his team for mistakes or issues, Popovich often sprinkles in some humor. That was the case during a game in the 2009-10 season when his guys just couldn't get it going from the free throw line.

That season, San Antonio shot just 74% from the charity stripe, which was 24th in the NBA. That same percentage carried over into the playoffs, where the Spurs lost in a second-round sweep to the Phoenix Suns.

During one particular timeout when the Spurs were especially bad at the line, TNT microphones caught a gem from Coach Pop:

"The next guy that misses a free throw is going to buy me a new car," he told his team in the huddle. I'm guessing he never followed through on that threat.

4. "I Want Some Nasty!"

In Game 1 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a legendary quote was born. The Spurs were on the verge of falling down 1-0 and losing homecourt advantage against Kevin Durant and company when Popovich called a timeout and passionately pleaded for his guys to get nasty.

"It's not supposed to be easy," he yelled. "Every round gets tougher. Penetrate hard. Good passes. Shoot with confidence. I want some nasty!"

The talk paid off, as the Spurs roared back to claim a 101-98 victory, pushing the series lead to two a couple of days later.

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