Coach Pop

by JoeYancey

An ode to greatness is due. As a Spurs fan, I have followed and watched Gregg Popovich from afar, and when lucky enough, from up close.

I will spare you my thoughts on political preference, stance on activism and all things free society, but to say I agree with Coach’s use of his platform, fully. He is an exceptional man. I have thought at times he is too involved in those things, but he has a voice, a well-respected voice and he uses it for good. Much respect.

Looking at a San Antonio Spurs team currently sitting at 17-12 in a brutal western conference with an aging Lamarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay; a mostly efficient Demar Derozan and a bunch of young guys, to say what he has done this year is masterful would be an understatement of epic proportions.

The Spurs snapped their playoff streak last season at 22 consecutive, and most analysts predicted they would start a new streak, of missed playoff appearances with this season being another dud. There are no guarantees San Antonio makes the playoffs. They are one injury away from being very average, but Pop has his team playing extremely well, and important to note, they play their best basketball against the best teams.

Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White and Keldon Johnson all homegrown, drafted by the Spurs – none of these guys were high draft picks, but have been given the best chance to shine. Pop’s motto of sharing the ball, and “you have a good shot only if the next guy doesn’t have a better shot,” is in full bloom and instrumental in the development of the young players.

After the very public Kawhi Leonard debacle and the passing of Popovich’s wife, many expected his resignation. Seeing what the front office did on previous drafts and veteran pieces in place, points to a successful team for years to come. Maybe that was enough to keep Coach around, even after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Many think this was the rejuvenation necessary to keep Pop coaching. His three-year contract is nearing an end, and it now looks like an extension is likely.

The Spurs are not the most popular pick and likely not the most fun team to watch, but should you find yourself with some free time, I highly recommend tuning in. The San Antonio Spurs teams of the last 25 years embody teamwork, ball-sharing, and defense. These are staples of the team, and requirements to play for Gregg Popovich. Somewhere James Naismith is smiling.

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