San Antonio Spurs: Gregg Popovich Speaks Truth


Chances are that when San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich talks, you should listen. He’s weighed in on anthem protests, roster management and more

Even with Tim Duncan retired, the San Antonio Spurs will be the San Antonio Spurs again this year. Which is to say that they’ll win between 50 and 60 games and terrify whichever team draws them in the playoffs.

The annual “the Spurs don’t get enough attention” narrative gets more attention than the actual team does at this point, which is a shame because there’s a lot to appreciate in San Antonio. Consider this, then, as a friendly reminder that Gregg Popvich is awesome and should be the NBA’s and America’s life coach, and not just because he makes life miserable for sideline reporters.


A local reporter asks Pop about the recent instances of police violence and the resulting protests across the country and, of course, about Colin Kaepernick and the other players across sports that are kneeling or raising fists during the national anthem.

More from Sir Charles In Charge

We’ve seen some coaches say some dumb, misguided, indifferent or patronizing things about the situation (some, in fairness, have been thoughtful). Coaches are paid to coach and are answering questions through that prism, sure, but the inability or unwillingness to consider the questions as human beings is more than a little frustrating.

It’d be nice/helpful if coaches didn’t say things like these, for example: Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney called protests during the anthem a “distraction.” The USA national hockey team’s coach John Tortorella said he’d bench any of his players that didn’t stand for the anthem. Michigan football coach (and Kaepernick’s former coach in San Fransisco) Jim Harbaugh said that he doesn’t respect Kaep’s actions.

The list goes on, but you get the general idea.

Leave it to Popovich to actually provide some useful perspective when asked about “what’s going on in the country“:

"I think it’s really dangerous to answer such important questions that have confounded so many people for hundreds of years, to ask me to give you my solutions, as if I had any, in 30 seconds. So if you want to be specific about a question, I’ll be more than happy to answer it because I think race is the elephant in the room in our country. The social situation that we’ve all experienced is absolutely disgusting in a lot of ways."

That’s a pretty good answer! Pop managed to avoid overstepping his bounds while still addressing the question thoughtfully. He doesn’t pretend that the discourse around major societal problems hasn’t made its way into the sports world, he doesn’t pretend that he (or anyone else) could possibly answer that question in a helpful way during a media scrum, and he adds some human, non-coach sentiment.

He also went on to add that he understands why players are protesting and respects their courage (the whole transcript is well worth a read).


Popovich tells the San Antonio Express-News that he refused to re-sign Boban Marjonovic in free agency. The Serbian giant wanted to stay in San Antonio, even if that meant taking way less money . . . like eighteen million dollars less: Pop said that he “had to work to get [Boban] to understand that $21 million was different than $3 million.”

It’s not like the San Antonio Spurs couldn’t have used Marjonovic, either: Pau Gasol is 36 and Joel Anthony will serve as his backup this season. So they’re woefully thin at center this season and Boban proved last year that he can be a really useful piece on a good team and they would have gotten him at an insane bargain, but the Spurs still let him walk.

The NBA – and professional sports in general – are cutthroat businesses where loyalty or compassion can cost teams wins or executives their jobs (just ask them, they’ll tell anyone that’ll listen), so it’s refreshing to see the occasional franchise/coach/GM that has their players’ best interests at heart, even if it means Harry and the Hendersonsing them sometimes.

‘I said, “Get your ass out of here. Go. You’ve got to do it.” But he felt bad.’


Popovich is asked about the Warriors and the future of the NBA. His response was equal parts cantankerous and sensible.

The Warriors’ roster is definitely anomalous, as all historically great teams’ rosters are. Squads like the Warriors, the 2010’s Heat, the early 2000’s Lakers, the mid 90’s Bulls, etc force the league reevaluate the way it thinks about personnel and strategy, but – for one reason or another – their success is never completely replicable. As Pop said, most teams will always be a hybrid of small and big, fast and slow.

The Warriors have made some good moves and have also been insanely lucky; they’ve changed the course of the NBA and the rest of the league will do its best to adapt and evolve. It seems like Popovich is reading just enough into the Warriors’ success and avoiding getting too caught up in it. Again, perspective.

Must Read: Five Bold Predictions For The 2016-17 NBA Season

May Gregg Popovich always be around to bring the sports world back down to Earth when it spirals a little too far out into the stratosphere.