NBA Rumor: Gregg Popovich Retirement?

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While the 70-year-old signed a three-year contract extension in April, he’s also widely known to be taking a year-by-year approach to this stage of his storied career. As of now, a source said Popovich has given no indication to the organization that he won’t be back next season. Yet whenever he steps away, whether it’s after he coaches Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics this summer or sometime thereafter, there’s one name that continues to come up from league sources as a possible replacement: Bill Self, the longtime Kansas coach and close friend of Spurs general manager R.C. Buford.

A quick note as a backdrop here: A source with knowledge of the Spurs’ thinking is quick to make it clear that this monumental choice will be, first and foremost, about what’s best for the organization and not based solely on personal relationships. Still, it’s worth monitoring and chronicling the deep ties here. What’s more, there has been one potentially significant development since Self found himself addressing these rumors when they first surfaced back in April: His program is under investigation for NCAA violations, and all of a sudden it’s fair to wonder if now might be the perfect time for him to take on a new challenge. Again, of course, that’s all depending on Pop and what he wants to do.

Robinson also said he was glad to hear that Gregg Popovich reportedly plans to return for a 24th season as the Spurs coach. Robinson said he remembers the uncertainty regarding Popovich’s future after his wife, Erin, died in April 2018. “I went to the funeral they had up at the Air Force Academy, and that’s tough, I don’t care who you are,” Robinson said. “Pop has always been a rock for this franchise and you almost never see him flinch. But I don’t care who you are, that’s a tough thing to go through, so you don’t know how people are going to react. But I think it’s been a great thing for him to coach. It’s been a new family for him. And I am happy that he is coming back. He is fantastic.”

At Staples Center last week, there was a pregame conversation among some of my fellow media members about whether Popovich is still enjoying himself. There was even a suggestion that he’s mellowed over the past few seasons. His once infamous in-game interviews have seemed a bit blander and straighter of late—but, mercifully, that doesn’t mean he’s lost his lovable edge entirely. After the Spurs fell to the Lakers later that evening, someone asked Popovich what made LeBron James so hard to stop in the fourth quarter.
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September 20, 2020 | 12:22 pm EDT Update
So, I asked, how did Lakers coach Frank Vogel see it after he had watched the film? “We were definitely the aggressors in the game, and the box score I have right here has us with 28 (fouls),” Vogel said. “We got called for 28 fouls. They got called for 26.” It was a savvy stance to take, albeit oversimplified. So as Vogel left his media session to rejoin his team, I admitted to him that I hadn’t noticed that the final fouls tally was in the Nuggets’ favor. “I do my research,” he said with a grin.
Storyline: Officiating Complaints
When Orange County Register Lakers beat writer Kyle Goon asked Vogel about James’ shot selection this season, it was refreshing to hear a candid and fascinating response from the Lakers coach rather than something more political. James, whose midrange jumper has been so effective for so many years now, has focused more on shots at the rim and beyond the arc this season, in part because of the message being sent by the coaching staff. “It is definitely a coaching point,” Vogel said. “You know, we want to have an analytics-based shot selection mindset with our team. … It’s the free throw No. 1; layup dunk No. 2; corner 3, No. 3; arc 3, No. 4, and midrange is the fifth priority shot we could have. But I will not ever tell my team not to take midrange shots if they are open shots. The No. 1 analytic for me is ‘Are you open?’ or ‘Are you guarded?’ That applies to shots at the rim, applies to 3-point line and applies to midrange. I’ll take an open shot over any zone that you can put up the shot from, and we want to work for open shots.”
“We’re not trying to intimidate anyone,” said Rondo, who had seven points, nine assists and a plus-13 in nearly 22 minutes. “We’re just playing basketball. With the guys we have — Dwight (and his) physical ability, he’s just playing the game. No one’s out there trying to bully people. We’re playing to our strengths. “I’ve been telling (Howard) the last two weeks (that) he’s going to be our X-factor in the series. I’m very happy that he got an opportunity to come out and play and display his talent, and show how much we need him. Like I said, I told him in the Houston series, things don’t go his way sometimes but in a championship run you need all 15 guys, and that’s what we displayed (in Game 1). Coach being able to go deep in the bench, and use guys that we haven’t used last series, so it’s a testament to the management, the way we’re able to be flexible — go small, go big, and (in Game 1) Dwight Howard, especially, was great for us.”
“This has been something I’ve never dealt with. There’s a lot going on for me individually, (and) for my family. And then the rehab, just with (the coronavirus in society) and the bubble and trying to do the best that I can to not have to quarantine for many days coming back here and having to quarantine — basically taking five days off from treatment and rehab and then trying to get myself ready to play in the Eastern Conference Finals, that’s something that’s a daunting task for sure. So for me … I’ve tried to do the best I can each day with it, and not put pressure on myself and just try to help us win basketball games, honestly.”
“To be honest, I didn’t get much sleep the last 48 hours,” Brown, who clashed with Smart in the passionate locker room scene, said when asked about the recovery process for their team. “I was so antsy to get back and play basketball. I don’t think the last two games exemplify what this team is about. So, I couldn’t wait to come out and be the best version of myself and try to add to a win. And I’m glad to be a part of this team and this organization and I’m proud of how we responded. … At the end of the day, we’re a family. We represent this organization. We represent each other and we won’t ever let anything come in between that. We’ve got a tremendous opportunity and we understand that and nothing’s going to stop us from trying to maximize that.”
Back in February, Us Weekly published a story about how Vanessa had been leaning on her mother, Sofia Laine, as she grieved the loss of Kobe and hers and Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Giannia. Laine had moved in with Vanessa at one point, but she now says her daughter has kicked her out of the Bryant home. Laine sat down for an interview with Univision that is set to air in its entirety on Monday. A preview clip, which is only in Spanish, was shared on social media. According to Erika Marie of Hot New Hip Hop, a teary-eyed Laine claims in the interview that her daughter has kicked her out of the Bryant home and demanded that she return a car Vanessa had given to her.
September 20, 2020 | 9:24 am EDT Update