Legendary San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has always gone about things his own way.
His innovative approaches toward building and cultivating relationships with players, performance psychology, game preparation and on-court tactics have helped ‘Pop’ lead the Spurs to five championships, which ties him with three other coaches for the third most titles in NBA history.
From both past and present perspectives, current Spur Rudy Gay and former one Danny Green know from experience just how unique and special Popovich is — on the floor and off.
Popovich’s prowess in teaching the defensive side of the game, in particular, had an immense impact on how both Green and now-Raptors teammate Kawhi Leonard ply their craft on a nightly basis.
“Offence is cool and all, but the way he breaks down defence — defence is his thing. And [Pop] was on us more than anything, trying to turn me, and Kawhi also, into defensive juggernauts if we could.
“The things that [Pop] would pick out and try to perfect, or make us be perfect on, man it made the game easier on us defensively,” said Green who, along with Leonard, have been arguably Toronto two most effective players on the defensive side of the ball this season.
For Gay, who Raptors fans will also remember from his brief stint with the club in 2012 and 2013, it’s more about how Popovich carries himself in all facets of life and how he philosophizes socially, than it is about the on-court x’s-and-o’s.
“He’s more than just a basketball coach. He’s into politics, he’s into civil rights, he’s into a lot of things — he goes places where a lot of people are scared to go as far as socially,” said Gay.
“That’s what really intrigues me.”
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