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Gregg Popovich Just Wants Players To Be Great… People
The winningest coach in NBA history just wants his players to be good people.
Ball is not life.
And as hard and tough as the San Antonio Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich, is on his players on the hardwood, this is the one thing that he wants his players to take from their time with him.
Which is kind of odd because we’ve all heard the stories of how Popovich will instantly bench you if you mess up; every player has a short leash on his team.
But even though his toughness and perfectionism are the reasons why the Spurs formed a dynasty that lasted into multiple decades, and won the organization many championship titles while developing some of the greatest legends in NBA history, he actually just wants his players to be well-rounded, good people.
Don’t believe me?
Listen to Derrick White, who played for Popovich from 2017 (as a rookie) to 2022.
On The Old Man and the Three Podcast, White revealed to JJ Redick what it was like to play for the legendary coach and what Popovich taught him.
“I just think he knows how to communicate with people… knows how to connect with you on a deeper level,” White said. “I mean I always say that I learned a lot on the court, but I’ve learned more off the court from my time in San Antonio. Just trying to realize that it’s bigger than basketball -it’s just something that he talks about all the time.
“And he just pushes you to be a better person. Obviously, he wants you to do certain things on the basketball court but, I mean, it’s a job at the end of the day and he just wants you to be a great person, which is really the important thing.”
White started off as a bench-warming rookie. But as he continued to work hard, he slowly gained the trust of Popovich, who let him run the team’s offense in 2018-19 when Dejounte Murray missed an entire season due to injury.
From there, he showed Popovich he can be trusted and was in his good graces.
He became the Spurs’ sixth man -like Manu Ginobili- and averaged around 25-30 minutes per game being the leader of the second unit.
White was eventually traded to the Boston Celtics in early 2022, where he resumed his sixth-man role and helped the team get to the NBA Finals.
But as awesome as all of his on-court success is, what’s more important is that he’s a really nice and humble guy (or at least that’s what it seems like).
And I’m sure he was already this way before joining the Spurs. But for the sake of the main argument of this article, I’m just going to say that Popovich made him an even better person than he already was.
And if you have a problem with that, feel free to take it up with someone who’s not me.
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