When it comes to painful San Antonio Spurs losses, there's only one that comes to mind for 99 percent of fans. In fact, it doesn't even warrant an offensive rebo-- I mean, a mention. Yet, in a quote from Peacock's Team USA docuseries, For Ball and Country, Coach Gregg Popovich revealed his most painful loss didn't even happen in the NBA.
Coach Pop is currently in Tokyo looking to capture the gold medal that's evaded him since he narrowly missed the 1972 squad as a player. The combination of COVID-19 restricting his roster and international basketball continuing to improve will make that a tall order, but his focus remains. As Kevin Durant recently noted, "He ain't playing out here."
No one is more motivated to bring home the gold than Coach Pop, who was the assistant coach for the 2004 Men's Olympic Team that finished third after to losing to Manu Ginobili and Argentina. He also led the 2019 Team USA that finished a disappointing seventh in the last FIBA World Cup.
Speaking about the 2004 team that featured Tim Duncan yet still finished third, Gregg Popovich made his bitter feelings known. "To this day, I got this thing in my head that bothers me more than any loss I've ever had in the NBA. It just bugs the hell out of me."
The words were part of a speech to the 2016 team that ended up winning gold in Brazil. Popovich was not on the staff for those Olympic Games.
Going back to the present-day, Popovich's thoughts on the matter haven't changed a bit. "It would be disingenuous if I said, well, it's all about them," said Pop in the documentary. "I would love to be the coach that helped out in them getting a gold medal. It's always been important to me."
While he's the greatest coach in NBA history and has five NBA titles to his name, Popovich has only secured one international gold medal, which he received as an assistant coach in the 2003 FIBA Americas Championship Team. Sunday will be the beginning of his first bid in the Olympics as a head coach.
"Those losses fuel you. They make you remember," said Popovich.
Although many of the NBA's biggest superstars won't be present, Team USA is still rightfully considered the favorite to take home gold in Tokyo, but it's far from a given.
Team United States begins preliminary play against Rudy Gobert and Team France on Sunday, July 25th at 8 am ET.