San Antonio Spurs News

26 Times Gregg Popovich's Greatness Went Beyond Basketball

Gregg Popovich
Gregg Popovich / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich, Zachary Lavine, Jerry Colangelo / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

5. Coach Popovich Shuts Up All of the Haters

Although this article might end up giving it a run for its money, my favorite article I've ever published came the night of August 7th, 2021. In it, I went in-depth about a particular reporter's seemingly personal grudge against Popovich after a media session run-in appeared to sour him on the legendary coach.

The journalist wasn't the only one, as Kendrick Perkins and Skip Bayless also took shots at the coach during Team USA's early exhibition struggles. At some points, it almost appeared as if some of them were rooting for their country's team to fail just to stick it to Popovich.

But as he's now done over 1,330 times in the regular season, Popovich ultimately led his guys to victory, which allowed for them all to get back at the haters. (warning: explicit language)

After he and his countrymen clinched the gold medal, Pop couldn't help but shut the haters up one last time in the locker room. This one has explicit language as well but is oh so satisfying.

This victory for Pop and Team USA almost felt like a Spurs championship to me, and it undoubtedly meant the world to him as well.

6. Popovich Shows "March of the Penguins" Instead of Game Film

Leave it to Coach Popovich to take in a tough-nosed, Compton-raised baller and make him watch "March of the Penguins" as one of his first activities with his new club. Apparently, that's what happened when DeMar DeRozan was acquired for the 2018-19 season

"The whole point of it was how life is a full circle and as long as we work together, stick together and stay on the same track, we can accomplish the most impossible mission," he said in an interview for Bleacher Report. "I thought we were going to watch film."

7. Coach Pop Eases Tensions with Stephen Jackson's Rap Video

With all the personalities Gregg Popovich has had to handle over his career, Stephen Jackson's has to be one of the toughest. While his first tenure in San Antonio was a success that led to an NBA title for him in 2003, he didn't have the smoothest relationship with his coach and the franchise in the years that followed.

Jackson has been off and on about the team and Pop ever since, as you'll see in number eight on the list, but there will always be a level of respect from him. One way Popovich earned that from Jackson is how he built camaraderie in the locker room. In an episode of All the Smoke, DeRozan and Jackson talked about a time the jokester came out in Popovich.

"We all sat down for film -- I remember that," said Jackson. "He pulled me out of the last game so I was mad. You know me, I show up to practice the next day -- attitude. Don't wanna be there. I come in the locker room -- I ain't said nothing to him all day. We sit down, I got the mug on. I'm thinking we're ready to prep for the game. It's one of my rap videos."

"Everybody busted out laughing, dog. But he knew what he was doing because it got me out of it. He's a genius at that."

8. Stephen Jackson: "He Cared More About Me Than Basketball."

Continuing with the Stephen Jackson saga -- the fiery guard has admitted to having a complicated relationship with Pop in the past. That all came to a head when he was cut from the team just before the 2013 NBA Playoffs after Pop, as Jackson put it, got him to cut himself from the team.

Still, even with the messy ending to their relationship, Jackon's personal account of Popovich caring about him tells you all you need to know.

"He cares about me as a person more than a basketball player. When my wife at the time had a miscarriage, I was on the bus ready to go to the game. He and Tim came and pulled me off the bus with tears in their eyes because I was showing strength about what I was dealing with and I was willing to play. It was like, basketball is not that serious. We care about you as a person."

"For them to even think to see how I really felt, that showed they cared more about me than basketball."

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