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#pounditSunday, January 16, 2022

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich ejection lets Becky Hammon become acting head coach

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich’s ejection on Wednesday night resulted in a brief head coaching opportunity for Becky Hammon.

Pop was tossed during the second quarter of his San Antonio Spurs’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Pop was upset about not getting some calls. A lack of a foul call following a DeMar DeRozan drive to the basket got Popovich steamed.

Pop being tossed meant Hammon took over as the team’s acting head coach.

Hammon has been with San Antonio’s staff since 2014. She’s received interest from various colleges and even some NBA teams, but she’s remained on the Spurs’ staff, waiting for the right opportunity. The Spurs entered Wednesday’s game 2-1 on the season.

Gregg Popovich has some funny takes on social media, rap music

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich is now the oldest head coach in NBA history, and he certainly acts like it at times.

Before Wednesday’s season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs coach gave some funny takes on both social media and rap music. Popovich said that there was “no shot” of him ever making a Twitter account, per Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. Popovich also said of rap music, “If you can’t dance to it, it’s not good.”

For context, Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV said this week that he and his fellow youngsters on the team had been trying to keep Popovich up to date on modern trends. Walker acknowledged though that getting Popovich on Twitter was probably not going to happen and that Popovich had little interest in learning about rappers like Lil Baby.

Popovich, who will turn 72 next month, is entering his 25th season coaching the Spurs. That means that he has been coaching the team since before Walker and some of his other teammates were even born.

We know that some of Popovich’s coaching contemporaries have since gone on to produce some great content on Twitter. Popovich himself sounds more than happy to sit that one out though.

Nets serious about Gregg Popovich pursuit?

Gregg Popovich

The possibility of Gregg Popovich ever leaving the San Antonio Spurs for another team is a major longshot, but the Brooklyn Nets seem unfazed.

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that league sources, including those with both the Spurs and the Nets, expect Brooklyn to pursue Popovich this offseason. Woike adds that, though the pursuit is expected to be unsuccessful, there is a “never say never” aspect, per one NBA executive.

Popovich, who is 71 years old and still under contract with the Spurs, was first mentioned in connection with the Brooklyn job several weeks ago. The Nets recently fired Kenny Atkinson and made Jacque Vaughn their interim coach but will begin a formal search process in the offseason.

Nets GM Sean Marks, who used to be a Popovich assistant in San Antonio, recently spoke on the rumors. In any case, it seems like they will explore all available options, despite the long odds facing them with Popovich.

Gregg Popovich messes with reporters over Spurs’ playoff streak ending

Gregg Popovich

The San Antonio Spurs’ season on Thursday finally came to an end, and for the first time since 1997, they will not be part of the playoffs. Gregg Popovich may be proud of the franchise’s accomplishment, but it’s not something he wants to focus on.

The longtime Spurs head coach was asked after the team’s 118-112 loss to Utah on Thursday about the playoff streak ending. He decided to mess with reporters about it.

“The streak? What are you talking about? ….Did you talk about the streak at all before it ended? Or was this important when it ended?” he asked, seeming like he was annoyed with the reporters. Then he broke down, saying, “I’m just screwing with you.”

Popovich says his focus is on the future, not the past, and that the streak ending is “fake news.”

“It means a lot to a lot of people, but I don’t dwell a lot on the past. What’s important is the moment; looking to the past doesn’t do much good,” he said.

“I could care less about (streaks). I am thrilled about the way they played here.”

The Spurs arrived in Orlando knowing they were a very long shot to make it into the playoffs. They had a good showing in the restart, posting a 5-3 record, but it wasn’t enough. Players like Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl got a chance to showcase their skills, while young players like Derrick White and Dejounte Murray also had nice flashes.

The West remains a tough conference and it’s hard to see San Antonio being able to compete with the top teams any time in the near future, but that won’t keep them from continuing to develop. Popovich also plans to continue coaching next season. The 71-year-old previously said he is taking things year-to-year.

Gregg Popovich has flattering player comparison for Nikola Jokic

Gregg Popvich is officially a believer in the Church of Nikola Jokic.

Speaking on Wednesday after his San Antonio Spurs fell to the Denver Nuggets, Popovich offered a rather flattering player comparison for Jokic.

“He’s a reincarnation of Larry Bird,” said Popovich of the Nuggets All-Star big man, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Jokic dropped 25 points, four rebounds, and 11 assists in the win over the Spurs. He is indeed somewhat reminiscent of Bird for his passing ability for his size as well as his unique ability as a three-level scorer.

While the compliment is obviously some very high praise from Popovich, who has seen many decades worth of elite talents on the basketball court, we probably know of a slightly better reincarnation of Larry Legend out there.

Nets GM Sean Marks addresses rumors about team wanting Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich

The Brooklyn Nets are searching for a head coach who can help deliver the NBA title fans are expecting with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the fold. There has been talk about Gregg Popovich possibly filling that role, but some recent comments made by Nets general manager Sean Marks do not make it sound likely.

Gerald Brown of SiriusXM NBA Radio said on the “Let’s Get Technical” podcast with retired NBA stars Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells this week that rumors indicate the Nets are preparing a “godfather offer” to entice Popovich to coach the team. When asked about that by WFAN’s Joe & Evan on Friday, Marks essentially said he cannot see Popovich leaving the San Antonio Spurs.

“Pop has a job. So I will say that. And, obviously, we all know he’s an amazing, amazing coach — and to be quite frank, an even better leader,” Marks said, as transcribed by USA Today’s Nick Friar. “So I’ll let Pop continue to coach for the Spurs. He owes it to them and they owe it to him. I’m sure he’s quite happy there.”

Marks was an assistant on Popovich’s staff with the Spurs, so he has a personal relationship with the future Hall of Fame coach. If the opportunity arose for the Nets to hire Pop, we highly doubt they would turn it down. However, Marks knows better than to openly recruit another team’s coach. It’s also doubtful that Popovich would be looking for a fresh start at age 71 after coaching the Spurs for nearly 25 years.

Popovich has been taking things year-by-year with his coaching future, and he can basically coach the Spurs for as long as he would like. He has also committed to coaching Team USA in the next Olympics, so he is not retiring entirely. Even if the Nets write him a blank check, it’s hard to envision Popovich coaching outside of San Antonio at this juncture.

Brooklyn Nets looking to make ‘godfather offer’ to Gregg Popovich?

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich has been synonymous with the San Antonio Spurs for the last two-and-a-half decades, but one team could still be trying to swing for the fences in the hopes of luring him away.

In an appearance this week on the “Let’s Get Technical” podcast with retired NBA stars Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, Gerald Brown of SiriusXM NBA Radio noted the presence of rumors linking Popovich to the Brooklyn Nets. The rumors state that Nets owner Joe Tsai is looking to make a “godfather offer” to Popovich for him to come coach the team.

While Brown did add that he was not really buying the rumors, it is worth noting that ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith mentioned Popovich in connection with the Brooklyn job back in March.

Popovich, who is reportedly taking his coaching future on a year-to-year basis, is well-acquainted with Nets GM Sean Marks, who used to be an assistant on his staff in San Antonio. Popovich is also currently the head coach of USA Basketball but has yet to actually coach the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan since taking over for Mike Krzyzewski in 2017. He did, however, coach Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris at last year’s FIBA World Cup.

Still, Popovich is already 71 years old, and he may not be willing to uproot his life and take over a new organization with his coaching career winding down. Thus, this other title-winning head coach that Brooklyn is also targeting may prove to be a much more realistic option for them.

Gregg Popovich gives pep talk to San Antonio Food Bank staff

Gregg Popovich

One of the NBA’s most prominent coaches is putting his motivational skills to work for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich got on a conference call with staff members of the San Antonio Food Bank days after the nonprofit fed 10,000 households at a drive-thru distribution. With staffers tired and funding in question, Popovich lifted the spirits of everyone involved.

“He told them some stories about some tough games and how to get through a crisis,” Food Bank president and CEO Eric Cooper told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.

Popovich even took questions from staff, and Cooper said one staffer asked him why Tim Duncan was benched in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

“He said, ‘We are just entertainers playing a sport that doesn’t mean much, but you guys are serving the community,'” Cooper said. “Our staff and volunteers really appreciated it.”

This fits perfectly with Popovich’s demeanor. He looks serious, and he is when he’s coaching, but he’s very aware of the role basketball plays in the world and knows that there are people doing a lot more important work. This is his way of giving back.

Don Nelson hopes Gregg Popovich coaches long enough to break his wins record

Gregg Popovich

Don Nelson is hoping to step aside in the record books for Gregg Popovich, despite the difficulties created by the sudden suspension of the NBA season.

In a recent interview, Nelson, the all-time winningest head coach in NBA history, said that he wants the San Antonio Spurs coach to break his record.

“I think it’s something that just happens if you’re in the league long enough and, if you’re able to get a bunch of wins, you got a shot at it,” said Nelson, per Wes Goldberg of The Mercury News. “But a lot of guys don’t coach that long.

“I hope he gets it,” Nelson added about Popovich, his one-time assistant on the Golden State Warriors in the 1990s. “I hope he gets it soon.”

The 71-year-old Popovich is currently at 1,272 career wins, 64 shy of breaking Nelson’s regular season record of 1,335. The 2019-20 season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic with 19 games left for the Spurs, depriving Popovich of an opportunity to draw even closer. Now he will almost certainly need more than another full season to catch Nelson.

Popovich, the oldest and longest-tenured coach in the NBA right now, is reportedly taking a year-to-year approach to his coaching future. Thus, it is anybody’s guess if he will stick around long enough to break Nelson’s record.

Gregg Popovich, Jerry Colangelo commit to Team USA through Olympic postponement

Gregg Popovich

It is unclear if USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich is going to coach the team beyond the Tokyo Olympics, but he is going to ride out the coronavirus epidemic for as long as necessary.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday that both he and Popovich will remain with the team in 2021, which is when the Tokyo Olympics are expected to take place. The Summer Games have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The commitments everyone made for 2020 are still there, we’re all in and we’re committed,” Colangelo said, via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “It’s important to deal with the unknowns and this virus. This too shall pass and we’ll be back for everyone’s well being.”

Team USA training was scheduled to begin July 4 with the Olympics starting July 24, but the Tokyo Games were postponed this week. A new date for the Olympics has not been announced, and it’s possible there could be some scheduling conflicts depending upon if and when the NBA resumes its 2019-20 season. Colangelo admitted that could be a potential issue.

“We will follow the leader. We have to wait to see how everything is laid out and we’ll make the adjustment,” Colangelo said. “Our players are NBA players first, let’s face that. … Changing the window for the NBA is easier said than done. There’s a lot of logistics and contracts to deal with. Same for the Olympics. You have to assume it will be around the same dates.”

Popovich has not yet committed to coaching in the NBA beyond this season, but it makes sense that both he and Colangelo are sticking with Team USA as long as necessary. The coronavirus outbreak has impacted the entire sports calendar. No one could have seen it coming.