An outstanding relationship between a head coach and their superstar is one of the most integral ingredients in constructing an enduring dynasty. Bill Russell and Red Auerbach. Magic Johnson and Pat Riley. Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson. Steph Curry and Steve Kerr. Those generational athletes have become forever linked to the iconic playcallers that helped them capture unrivaled success in the NBA. Of course, that list isn't complete without mentioning Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich.
The Big Fundamental and his no-nonsense mentor led the San Antonio Spurs to five championships, perennial playoff appearances, and historic regular season dominance for nearly two decades. That incredible stretch would not have been possible without their unbreakable bond on and off the court. Fans are hoping Popovich can replicate that connection with Victor Wembanyama, and according to the latest face of the franchise, he is already meshing with the 74-year-old skipper this preseason.
Hearing Wembanyama discuss his willingness to take criticism, trust in Popovich, and desire to learn as much as possible from the Hall of Famer is like the sound of a harmonious ballad to the ears of the Silver and Black faithful. How often does a teenage sensation arrive in the league with the humility of a role player fighting for the final spot on the roster and the poise of a seasoned veteran? That unreal level of maturity is another remarkable attribute that sets the 7-foot-3 rookie apart from his peers.
Nonetheless, every healthy partnership is a two-way street, and Popovich has held up his end of the bargain. With a decorated resume and prestigious hardware in his trophy case the 74-year-old would have every right to tell any youngster to pipe down and fall in line with his proven system. Rather than rule the organization with an iron fist, he has approached this rebuild with an open mind, inviting input from Victor on how he sees the game. And this could be the start of something special for the Spurs.