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, Tony Parker / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

14. "I Want to Apologize For All the Physical and Mental Abuse."

Even with all the yelling Popovich did at Manu over the years, no one took the brunt of his wrath more than Tony Parker. Joining the NBA at just 19 years old, he was quickly thrown into the fire as the Spurs' starting point guard and had to endure some fiery berating throughout his long career in the Alamo City.

"I want to apologize for all the physical and mental abuse I gave you the whole time you were here," said Popovich at Tony's jersey retirement ceremony. "I've been wanting to say that for a long time."

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Kawhi Leonard, Gregg Popovich / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

15. Coach Pop Proves He's a Bigger Person Than All of Us

Speaking of yelling, there are many Spurs fans that would love to do a fair amount of that to the best Spur that never lasted in San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard. I've done my share of recounting the drama of the situation over the years since the divorce, including my thoughts on how he'd become a diva since arriving in Los Angeles.

While I ultimately don't care how fans see Leonard years after he left, there's no question many still have ill feelings toward the talented forward. Still, even though there was a track record of the organization and its medical staff being smeared in the process, Coach Popovich handled the first reunion with the departed Finals MVP the only way we've come to expect: with total class.

In Kawhi's first appearance in San Antonio with the Raptors, boos and jeers rained down on him all game long. In some ways, it was therapeutic for many fans to see their guys wipe the floor with the Raptors in that game, winning 125-107 after doubling up Toronto in the first quarter.

When it was all said and done, Coach Pop embraced Leonard and continues to do so every time they meet.

16. "70 Years of Age and Still Has the Wheels to Beat Them All!"

The 2019 FIBA World Cup was one to forget by the United States' standards, as their roster was missing several key superstars and they generally couldn't form a cohesive unit in time to be as competitive as they usually were.

Still, Coach Popovich gave it his all with the assortment of guys at his disposal both on and off the court. During one particular game against Patty Mills and the Australian team, he showed he still has wheels.

17. Coach Pop Delivers an Emotional Message on Social Injustice

One of the biggest reasons Coach Popovich is beloved among players and fellow coaches in the NBA is how outspoken he is about social and political issues. It's also one of the most controversial aspects of his personality among those who don't agree with his views. As someone who monitors Facebook comments for this site, trust me on that one.

During the whirlwind of COVID-19 ravaging the world while police brutality was front-and-center in the United States, Popovich released an impassioned speech as part of a series for the Spurs' Twitter account.

Coach Pop is probably the most outspoken figure in all of sports when it comes to matters outside of basketball. Agree with him or not, he has a huge platform and will never be afraid to use it.

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