Gregg Popovich Rumors
You played many years for Gregg Popovich, who graduated from the Air Force Academy, played basketball there and then served five years before returning to Air Force to start his coaching career. Did you bond over your military background immediately? You don’t see that often in the NBA. David Robinson: Yeah, we definitely bonded over that. When you have the whole military mentality and then you transition to sports, in my case the NBA, it already makes you a little bit odd (laughs). Coming from that type of structure, I know a lot of people in the locker room were wondering, “What in the world is this young, military-minded kid going to be like when he comes in and joins the team?” But Pop and I absolutely bonded because we understood the focus [it takes to succeed] and we understood being a part of something bigger than ourselves, just like in the military. Together, we were really able to bring that focus and mentality to the Spurs. There’s no question that has been a part of Pop and I’s bond over the past 25 years, and he’s brought that discipline, focus and mission-oriented mindset to the team.
Here’s Spurs coach Gregg Popovich discussing the players-only meeting regarding Kawhi Leonard: “I only talk about the things that I know, and I know he’s worked hard to get back. It’s been frustrating. You don’t think he wants to come back? You don’t think we want him back? But the fact that he’s not back, it frustrates everybody for all the obvious reasons. But there’s no blame to be placed, on him or anybody else. It’s just an unfortunate situation. So what we do, what we think about, we’re going to do what we’ve been doing. The guys that are playing, that’s who the team is. And if he got added to the team, well that’s great. But you have to act like it’s not going to happen because you have to be who you are. And he’s not with us right now. So this team has to have its own identity. That seems pretty logical. That’s the only way to look at this.”
Here’s Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on how he tells the players to handle media scrutiny: “I give the same speech before playoffs every year. I say, ‘It’s playoff time. Try to keep as many guests out of your house as you can. Don’t read the newspaper. Don’t look at the TV.’ Because all that is is opinions, talk, and talking heads like looking at CNN, MSNBC, Fox, about all the stuff that’s going on with Russia and all that stuff. It’s senseless. It just doesn’t matter as far as sports are concerned. The Russia stuff is a little more important. Sports, and people’s opinions don’t affect what we do on the court. So my suggestion to them is to pay attention to as little media as possible, and your life will be a lot happier. Like if you said something nice to me, I don’t want to come in the next day, and say, ‘Hey, thanks, that was kind of nice.’ If you said something mean, I don’t want to come in and be angry and say, ‘Yeah, what do you want?’ I don’t care what you said. It’s better if I don’t read it. I don’t care. I don’t see it. I tell them to take their kids, put tents in the backyard, and let them stay in the backyard. Keep everybody away from them that’s worried about basketball.”
To most watching that nationally televised game in January, the stoppage 14 seconds in seemed out of place. It marked the quickest timeout in an NBA game in almost three years, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. But to Green, it was nothing new. He’s come to expect this sort of thing from Gregg Popovich, who’s called more abrupt timeouts than anyone in recent years — in some cases to shout at Green specifically.
“You want the clean version or the unedited version of what he’s telling us?” a smiling Green asked me after a recent practice. “In a nutshell, when he calls us over that quickly, it’s to say: ‘Wake up — get your head out of your butt. This is a big game. You can’t fall asleep on defense and fail to execute on the very first play of the game.’ He uses language that’s a little stronger than that, but if he has to call timeout that early, it’s pretty much to chew you out for not really being in the game mentally yet.”