13. "Nobody wants to put anybody else in danger. This guy's history is different."
"Victim": Zaza Pachulia
It's impossible to know for sure, but the odds are high that the Spurs would look very different today if it wasn't for Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals. San Antonio was on the verge of a convincing victory in the second half before repeated infractions by clumsy Warriors center, Zaza Pachulia, ultimately led to the injury that Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs would never recover from.
Naturally, Coach Popovich was livid after the game and didn't hold back when asked by reporters about the situation.
"This particular individual has a history with that kind of action," said Popovich. "This is crap."
It's safe to say the entire Spurs community is in full agreement.
14. "That was handled unprofessionally on a couple of different levels."
Victim: Marcus Morris
Continuing on a serious note, the shenanigans by Marcus Morris in the 2019 offseason led to many unhappy campers in San Antonio. The Spurs had traded Davis Bertans to free up the necessary space to sign the 6-8 forward only for him to change his mind and sign with New York.
As a result, the front office had to settle for Trey Lyles and were short a talented sharpshooter entering the season for no reason.
"They're pissed," said one general manager to The Athletic (subscription required) afterward.
"Let's just say that was an unfortunate situation that was handled unprofessionally on a couple of different levels," said Popovich. "We made that move to make the signing that we did and got blindsided."
If you weren't annoyed enough, Morris only lasted 43 games with the Knicks before he was traded to the LA Clippers.
15. Popovich Roasts Jayson Tatum's lack of defense
Victim: Jayson Tatum
Alright, I can't end on a serious one, so let's wrap it up with a friendly ribbing from Coach Popovich to a budding superstar in 2020. With USA Basketball looking to get back to glory, Pop noticed Jayson Tatum not giving the best effort on defense on a particular play while training.
"I wish I could be you," he told Tatum. "Then I could stand in the corner with my 7-foot-long arms down by my side and not move while players go past me!"
As Jackie MacMullan's piece said, though, Pop made sure Tatum didn't take his comment seriously. "I hope I haven't offended you," said Pop after assuring Tatum he could be the next Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. "Offended me?" Tatum replied. "That's a compliment!"
From innocent training camp attendees to stars like Duncan and Tatum, no one has been safe from Coach Popovich's burns. I'm pretty sure more names will be added to his list before his career is over.