San Antonio Spurs Rumors
Talk to players, coaches and executives who have worked with Gregg Popovich, and they’ll say these are the events that shaped him. Tremendous obstacles. Cold, hard truths. Popovich may float above the fray now, but he earned that ascent — one gritty step at a time. Ask Popovich about any of this and he’ll cut you off. None of it, he insists, resonates as much as you think it does. “My disappointments aren’t anything to do with what you mention,” he says. “They have to do with times we had opportunities to win a championship, and we didn’t.”
Herron suspects the subtleties of Popovich’s game were lost among the other candidates who were jacking up shots and looking to put points on the board. “Gregg could have been more showy,” Herron says, “but he played the way Mr. Iba told him to play. It probably hurt him in the end.” Herron says he attended every single Olympic selection committee meeting and that Popovich was among the top 14-16 players in each of those discussions. But as the committee began to vote on the final roster, members who hadn’t showed up at any of the previous meetings suddenly surfaced. When Herron asked why they were there, he says they told him, “We’re here to get our guys on the team.”
The process, Herron says, quickly dissolved into factions fighting for representation instead of choosing the top performers. When the final roster was announced, Popovich was left off. “I’ve been aggravated about this for almost 50 years,” Herron says. “Gregg belonged on that team.” Larry Brown was invited by Iba to attend the tryouts and was suitably impressed by Popovich’s moxie, so much so that he invited him to try out for his ABA team in Denver later that fall (Popovich was among the final cuts).
Doug Collins, one of four future NBA coaches who tried out for the team — Popovich, Mike D’Antoni and George Karl were the others — concurs that the selection process was political. Collins says he felt he was one of the best guards in camp, but when he bumped into coach Tommy Heinsohn, who was scouting the trials for the Celtics, Heinsohn told him, “They may not pick you. There is politics involved. You better get someone to fight for you.” Collins called Will Robinson, his coach at Illinois State, who immediately hopped a plane to Colorado and began stumping for him. (Collins made the team).
As he said in the press conference after the game according to the Spanish news agency EFE: “I do not know how I will process all of this. I love to play in the national team of my country and I feel something special. It’s very special. I’ll do everything I can but I will not be rigid in any thing that has to do with the national team. There is a lot of talent and I love being on top of the tournaments. As times goes by, I will have to leave and when the time comes I’ll do it. It’s part of my career. I can not ask for anything more. All of this is a gift and I’ll play any time I can. It will be an honor. I’m having fun”.