In the mid-90s, Michael Finley made a name for himself as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, but it wasn't until he joined the San Antonio Spurs that he was able to enjoy the glory of an NBA championship.
In the summer of 2005, Finley was on the market for a new home after nine seasons in Dallas that included two All-Star appearances. While he had richer offers from the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns, he ultimately chose the defending champion Spurs for their title-winning pedigree.
"This is the closest I've ever been to a championship," Finley said at the time. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of helping this team repeat."
Of course, he had to wait another year to win that elusive title, but he got his wish when San Antonio swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals for the franchise's fourth title. Recently, the retired combo guard stopped by the Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles to talk about his NBA career.
Near the end of the episode, Finley talks about his stint with the Spurs. "First of all, Pop is unbelievable," started Finley. "Not only as a coach but as a person." As he recalls, though, the transition from Dallas to San Antonio wasn't seamless.
Michael Finley shares best thing Coach Pop ever told him
Finley had just spent nearly a decade playing for a division rival in Dallas, so he spoke about how it was strange suddenly being on the other side.
"When I first got there, he knew that it was a difficult situation for me because I'm coming from the rival," said Finley.
"The best thing that Pop said to me, my first practice, I'm going at them 'cause they're still the Spurs. [I'm] fouling hard, going to the basket. I'm going like I'm playing against them. Pop [calls] timeout. Timeout. Hey, Fin -- you're with us now! That was one of the best things he said to me. Once he told me that, I was like, cool. So then, I was trying to fit in."
Finley continued by talking about Popovich giving him a green light to shoot, how involved the legendary coach was with off-court matters, and more -- which you can watch in the episode above.