It had been a couple years since I was in a Gregg Popovich interview session. I was interested to see if he’s the curmudgeonly but endearing genius the media has made him out to be in recent years.
I always thought he was just a fairly a rude guy who enjoyed making people uncomfortable.
On Thursday at Vivint Arena, he began with the softer side of Pop. Asked about Quin Snyder’s time as coach of the Spurs’ D-League affiliate, he said, “He’s kind of a basketball philosopher at a young age, so to speak. He would give me little pamphlets about this (an inch) thick about how to guard the pick-and-roll or a nuance about this or that, and then he would beat me up until I read the whole thing and we went through it page by page.
“He really thinks about the game. He enjoys the heck out of it. When he gets on the court with players, he’s really in his element, because he communicates really well and he has a way about him that makes you feel good about your team. We thought he was very valuable and did a great job for us developing players.”
Things seemed to be going smoothly. Too smoothly.
That’s when he he went into the Pop mode I remember. Someone asked him about illegal screens in the league and whether players are “pushing the boundaries.” He said, “It’s a waste of time.”
That led to another question, but later Pop came back to address the original question.
“That answer means it’s a waste of time, because you have nothing to say about it, nothing to do with it and you can spend your time doing lot more important things. You could say same thing about defense on the perimeter, too physical, too many hands on guys on perimeter, you can talk till blue in the face. It doesn’t matter.”
Another reporter asked about Rodney Hood’s progress.
“He’s not on my team is he?” Popovich said.
No, came the answer, “but you’ve got to face him.”
“I’m still trying to figure out my players,” Popovich said. “Quin can figure his out.”
You know what?
I think he is mellowing.