The man of few words is admitting that he has even fewer words to say these days. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has an ongoing joke with the media because of his little to no responses in interviews, but he was not joking about lack of linguistics in a recent interview.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Popovich told reporters before a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers that he literally has nothing to say to his players in a huddle sometimes. Pop would go on to explain that it is not rational to micromanage every single aspect of the game. It is up to the players to make the plays that will have the biggest effect on the game because it is a player’s game.
Popovich’s startling revelation may come as a shock to many who are unfamiliar with the NBA and atmosphere that surrounds it. He is in charge of grown men who get paid to win in a highly competitive arena, and it calls for a different type of coaching approach compared to the collegiate ranks which is more structured.
Veterans and superstars such as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker do not want to be told who, what, where, when and why to do a specific action in a game. They have the experience and leadership ability to be an extension of Popovich on the floor. Coaching and making plays in the moment is the responsibility that Popovich gives his team.
Another legendary coach in Phil Jackson had a similar approach to the game as well, allowing Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to make moment-by-moment decisions and the byproduct was winning.
Whether people agree with the mindset of Pop or not, you cannot argue with results. The Spurs are a half-game back of first place with a record of 45-16. Despite a plethora of injuries and lineup changes, Pop has commanded his team into the elite stratosphere of teams once again as the playoffs get closer. And the respect and reverence that his players show him on and off the court is proof enough that Popovich has blueprint for success.