Doris Burke: I was ‘almost in tears’ after Gregg Popovich interview
One of Gregg Popovich’s most infamous in-game interviews came at the expense of ESPN’s Doris Burke. It took place roughly a year ago during the NBA playoffs, when Popovich used only the word “turnovers” to answer Burke’s two questions. It was vintage Pop and something sideline reporters have come to expect, but it apparently rattled Burke a great deal.
During an appearance on Zach Lowe’s Grantland podcast on Thursday, Burke said that particular interview with Popovich almost brought her to tears.
“Everybody laughed at that, last year – and I don’t know if you remember the moment – but I had asked him something about the offensive end, and he said ‘turnovers,’ one word,” Burke said, as transcribed by Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk. “Then I asked him about, ‘OK, on the defensive end, you held them to whatever percentage. What did you see that you liked on that end?” And he said ‘turnovers’ again.
“Two words. I was devastated. It was brutal. It was absolutely brutal. I was almost in tears. I go back to where I sit, and I’m trying to compose myself, because I thought I asked two pretty good questions. And those were those were the responses I got.”
Burke is right. There was nothing wrong with the questions she asked, but we all know how Pop can be. His team was coming off a brutal quarter at the time, and he was only going to use the word “turnovers” no matter what the questions were or who asked them. While the interview shook Burke up, she said she does not take it personally.
“I know he doesn’t mean it personally. I know. Mike Breen has said to me, ‘Would you mind if one time on the air I said how much Pop likes and respects you, Doris? Because after those interviews, I know people would not know that.’ I said, ‘Mike, you do whatever your instincts tell you.'”
In a separate interview with Burke later that postseason, Burke got another short answer when she asked about the Spurs’ strategy for defending LeBron James. These are the reasons Pop can make guys like Jeff Van Gundy nervous and reporters flip coins to see who gets to interview him. He’s the toughest coach in the NBA to deal with.