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#pounditMonday, December 6, 2021

Gregg Popovich

Becky Hammon convinced Gregg Popovich to challenge crucial play in Spurs’ win

Becky Hammon

Many believe that it is only a matter of time before Becky Hammon becomes the first female head coach in NBA history, and we saw a great example of why she deserves a shot during the San Antonio Spurs’ win over the Miami Heat on Sunday.

The Spurs were leading 105-100 with 1:28 left in the game when DeMar DeRozan committed a foul on Jimmy Butler. It appeared the foul was committed well before Butler was in the act of shooting, but he was awarded a continuation on the play and the basket counted because of a goaltend. That would have cut San Antonio’s lead to 105-102 and put Butler at the line for a free throw, and it initially looked like Gregg Popovich was not going to challenge the call.

However, Hammon stepped in and was persistent in convincing Pop he had nothing to lose by challenging. The head coach agreed and asked for the play to be reviewed, and it was overturned.

Butler made both free throws to cut the lead to three, but he could have cut it to two had the original call stood. In a game the Spurs won 107-102, that turned out to be a critical play.

Some are saying Hammon is only getting credit for the role she played in that sequence because she is a female, which may be true to some extent. That doesn’t make it wrong, as it further showcases why she deserves consideration as a head coaching candidate. Hammon obviously has a high basketball IQ and has earned the respect of Popovich, who is one of the greatest coaches of all time.

We’ve already heard Hammon linked to one head coaching job, though Charles Barkley has urged her to wait for something better to come along.

Gregg Popovich cracks funny joke about LaMarcus Aldridge shooting more 3s

Gregg Popovich

LaMarcus Aldridge has looked like a changed man with all the three-pointers that he is shooting this season, so much so that his head coach thinks that it may be a different person entirely.

Before the San Antonio Spurs played the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, coach Gregg Popovich joked about Aldridge’s increased prowess from deep.

“That’s not LaMarcus, it’s his twin,” said Popovich, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s an impersonator.

“He’s doing a hell of a job,” added Popovich about the so-called impersonator.

The 34-year-old Aldridge has always been a strong scorer from the midrange but has never been much of a three-point shooter, entering the year averaging 0.4 three-point attempts a game at a 28.3 percent success rate for his career. That has all changed this season however with Aldridge firing up 2.5 attempts from deep per game and connecting on a spectacular 45.5 percent of them.

Popovich has openly admitted that he does not care for the three-point shot, but in a year where the Spurs are an uncharacteristic 17-21, Aldridge extending his range by a few feet can only help matters.

Gregg Popovich rejects role in spread of ‘farcical’ load management

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich is widely regarded as the first NBA coach to rest healthy players in what has become known as “load management,” but he wants no credit or blame for a practice that he thinks has gotten out of hand.

On Wednesday, Popovich insisted he “never” did load management, but instead monitored the minutes of stars like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan in a bid to extend their careers. Furthermore, he added that load management in today’s game has become “farcical.”

Most would argue that resting older players with injury history is the exact definition of load management. In fact, it’s a practice that he has gone out of his way to defend in the past. Considering the Spurs were once punished by the NBA for resting players in a primetime game, Popovich’s protestations here feel a little bit empty. While he’s right that load management is at an all-time high in the NBA, he’s still the coach who opened the door to the entire practice.

Gregg Popovich: David Fizdale firing is ‘ridiculous’

Gregg Popovich

David Fizdale was fired by the New York Knicks on Friday, and the move did not go over well with many.

Most recognize the Knicks have a poorly constructed roster, bad owner, and team that hasn’t won more than 32 games for five straight years. They view Fizdale as a scapegoat for the organization’s problems. Gregg Popovich certainly thinks so.

The San Antonio Spurs head coach weighed in on the Fizdale firing when speaking with the media on Friday. He called it “ridiculous” and “unfair.”

He’s right. This was only Fizdale’s second season as the team’s head coach. You’re expecting a huge turnaround after one and a quarter seasons, especially after stocking your roster with tons of power forwards in free agency? It’s lunacy.

But after eight straight losses, two of which came by blowout, the Knicks felt someone had to be accountable, and that’s why they fired Fizdale. It was an unfair move by a bad organization, but should be a lesson learned if you’re a potential head coach: this is what you’re in for if you take that job.

Gregg Popovich wants NBA to relax dress code so he can coach in sweats

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich has never been shy when it comes to speaking out about change. We often see that when he addresses important political issues, but the San Antonio Spurs coach also cares about the less significant things. Take, for example, the dress code the NBA forces him and his colleagues to follow.

Popovich apparently is not comfortable while he is coaching. While speaking with the media recently, he said he wishes the NBA would allow coaches to wear sweatsuits on the sideline during games. Reporters let out a collective laugh when Popovich first began talking about it, but he was not joking.

When one reporter noted that baseball managers are required to wear uniforms like the players, Popovich said “they did that when they were kids” and “probably feel good in that uniform.”

Popovich can’t be the only coach in the NBA who wishes he could dress more comfortably during games, but it seems unlikely that there will be any changes. Former NBA commissioner David Stern was strict when it came to dress codes with both players and coaches, and one star player once said that is the reason he got so big into fashion. Popovich is free to experiment with the colors and patterns on the suits he wears, but we don’t expect to see him in a full Adidas jumpsuit anytime soon.

Gregg Popovich takes shot at Knicks over Marcus Morris signing

Gregg Popovich

The San Antonio Spurs open up the season on Wednesday night against the New York Knicks and will face a player who should have been on their team.

Marcus Morris originally agreed to sign with the Spurs but later reneged on his deal and instead joined the Knicks, who had freed up more cap space.

Asked prior to Wednesday’s game who was unprofessional in the matter, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich zinged the Knicks, indicating what he thinks of the franchise.

In reality, there are two parties to blame for this: Morris and the Knicks. The Knicks meddled with a player who had already agreed to a deal elsewhere, and Morris went back on his agreement to sign with the Spurs.

Popovich previously stated that the Spurs were blindsided by the “unprofessional” situation. Pop’s words also seem to confirm a report that said the Spurs were upset with the Knicks over things.

Agent Rich Paul and Morris parted ways after the deal. A report later said Paul did not want Morris to back out. Paul tried making it up to the Spurs by getting Trey Lyles to sign with them.

Donald Trump goes after ‘scared’ Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich over China comments

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has finally waded into the growing controversy between the NBA and China, but it’s not the Chinese he’s going after.

Trump ripped Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for their responses to the growing controversy, with both taking a more neutral stance toward the NBA’s handling of Rockets GM Daryl Morey speaking in support of Hong Kong.

Trump did not have anything to say about commissioner Adam Silver, Morey, or the NBA as a whole. That likely has to do with the fact that it’s been Kerr and Popovich who have been vocally critical of Trump in the past. It’s also worth noting that many Republicans have been very critical of the NBA’s response to the China issue, but Trump, to date, has only brought up the two head coaches.

For what it’s worth, Warriors guard Stephen Curry found the whole thing hilarious.

With the issue only escalating with new events, this is going to stick around for a while. It may not be the last time we hear from Trump on it — or at least something somewhat related to it.

Do you support Free Speech? Do you stand with Daryl Morey? Get the shirt that says so below!

Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich’s responses to China situation are disappointing

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich are two of the finest coaches in the NBA, if not the world. They also happen to be wise in terms of how they handle leadership matters and political discussions. When others are too timid or unsure of what to say in response to certain issues, Kerr and Popovich frequently are there to speak out. That’s a large part of what has made them so popular in the sports world and beyond. That’s also what makes their responses — or lack of responses — to the Daryl Morey/NBA China situation so disappointing.

When asked about the matter on Monday, rather than go to bat for his colleague Daryl Morey, who supported those protesting in Hong Kong, Kerr said he did not want to talk about the matter because he was not knowledgeable enough about the subject. He called it a “bizarre international story.”

“It’s a really bizarre international story, and a lot of us don’t know what to make of it. So it’s something I’m reading about just like everybody is, but I’m not going to comment further than that,” Kerr said, via Golden State Warriors reporter Logan Murdock.

“What I’ve found is that it’s easy to speak on issues that I’m passionate about and that I feel like I’m well-versed on, and I’ve found that it makes the most sense to stick to topics that fall in that category,” he added. “So I try to keep my comments to those things, and so it’s not difficult. It’s more I’m just trying to learn.”

On Tuesday, Popovich was asked about the matter and offered his support for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

“He’s been a heck of a leader in that respect and very courageous,” Popovich told reporters at the Spurs-Miami Heat preseason game Tuesday, via USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. “Compared to what we’ve had to live through the last three years, there’s a big difference gap there leadership-wise and courage-wise.”

Keep in mind that the NBA tailored a statement to China in which they called Morey’s support of Hong Kong protesters “inappropriate” and said they were “extremely disappointed” in the Rockets GM. Popovich could have supported Morey — a position I would have expected him to take based on the Spurs coach’s past support of individual rights. But he stood with Silver instead. And Kerr wriggled off the hook by feigning ignorance.

Popovich supported Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Kerr has as well and even said the NFL was “blackballing” the former quarterback for kneeling. These guys have called out Donald Trump when they felt the president’s behavior was inappropriate.

And they choose not to support Daryl Morey standing for democracy and freedom of speech — values they have championed in the past — when they had the opportunity? That’s very disappointing.

The league is preserving its business relationship with China. So is ESPN. Kerr and Popovich are doing the same. How much different does this make them from the NFL and the NFL’s owners, who wanted anthem protests to go away because it was also bad for business?

There are no two ways about it; China is a communist country. The fact that some think twice about criticizing China due to the country’s political spin tactics and actions against dissenters prove these truths. Supporting democracy, freedom of speech, and other first amendment rights — as Morey did — is not a partisan issue; it’s American right down to our constitution.

The fact that Kerr, Popovich, and others feel so comfortable issuing criticism in America but fear doing so about China helps prove why our country, despite some of its faults, is great. And if you support Kaepernick for standing up and expressing his beliefs against what he felt was wrong, you similarly should back Morey for doing the same. That’s what makes it disappointing that these two leaders chose not to.

Do you support Free Speech? Do you stand with Daryl Morey? Get the shirt that says so below!

Gregg Popovich: Spurs were blindsided by ‘unprofessional’ Marcus Morris situation

Gregg Popovich

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is finally addressing the Marcus Morris situation that left the team with something of a black eye this summer.

Speaking at media day on Monday, Popovich said the Spurs were “blindsided” by Morris reneging on his verbal agreement to sign with the team. Pop noted the team already had traded Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards to create cap space for Morris.

“It was more than difficult to lose Davis,” he said, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “Let’s just say that was an unfortunate situation that was handled unprofessionally on a couple of different levels.

“Davis was a special player as we all know, and he was young and getting better and better,” Popovich continued. “So, yeah, we hated losing him.”

Morris agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with San Antonio this summer after they dealt the 26-year-old sharpshooter Bertans and restructured their free agent contract with DeMarre Carroll to accommodate him. Just days later though, Morris changed his mind and went on to sign a one-year, $15 million contract with the New York Knicks. As a result, the Spurs went out and got free agent forward Trey Lyles instead but had no way of getting Bertans back.

The Spurs were reportedly “pissed” at the time of Morris’ reversal of course, and it sounds like Popovich is still plenty unhappy over two months later.

Gregg Popovich: Kyle Kuzma’s ankle injury a ‘huge disappointment’

Kyle Kuzma

Gregg Popovich seems truly bummed out about Kyle Kuzma being cut by Team USA due to an ankle injury.

USA Basketball finalized the roster of 12 players that will be part of Team USA competing at the FIBA World Cup next weekend. Kuzma, who had been with USA Basketball in training camp and did not play in an exhibition game against Australia due to his ankle, did not make the cut.

In comments shared by’s John Karalis, Popovich expressed his “disappointment” over Kuzma being hurt.

Los Angeles Lakers fans should be somewhat concerned too. While some wondered if the ankle injury was a cover for cutting Kuzma, Popovich saying the injury could hold Kuzma back for the start of the season signifies how real it is.

The 24-year-old was one of the few remaining players on the Lakers after their huge Anthony Davis trade during the summer. He says he is taking on a leadership role with the team, which is full of many new faces. Kuzma averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.