No Wise Guy, Pop Shows His Wisdom





LOS ANGELES – When somebody asked him to explain his reasoning for deliberately fouling Reggie Evans in the fourth quarter of Game 3 on Saturday, a puzzled look crossed the face of Gregg Popovich,

“Because he’s not a good free throw shooter,” said the Spurs’ coach.

When the chuckling in the room finally stopped, Popovich went on.

“Look, I’m not trying to be a wise guy,” he said. “I just don’t know what else to tell you. We weren’t going to foul Chris Paul. I’m sorry to be a wise guy, but I fouled him for a reason. It’s not pretty. Basically, it’s ugly, but it’s part of the game. My job is to win.”

Nobody can argue with the winning part. With four NBA titles already in his pocket, Popovich will push his Spurs for their 18th consecutive win and their second straight series sweep in the 2012 playoffs tonight when they try to close out the Clippers.

While this has certainly been the spring of Tim Duncan’s resurgence, Tony Parker’s blossoming and the continued frantic stylings of Manu Ginobili, Popovich has left nothing to chance. In addition to repeatedly sending an opponent to the foul line who treats free throws as if they were trying to shoot basketballs through the eye of a needle, Popovich was also thinking about his veteran players who have to return to the court today for a back-to-back. By playing Sledge-a-Reggie, Popovich was slowing down the game and giving the likes of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili a chance to ease up on the wear and tear.

It was the kind of bold stroke in which Popovich excels, balancing both the need to close out Saturday’s win to take a 3-0 lead with the need to have his mainstays ready to go today. At that point in the fourth quarter, he didn’t feel safe enough to be able to just send his Big Three to the bench. But he did come up with a method to avoid taking a little extra starch out of Parker’s legs as he tried to guard THE speedy Paul and saved Duncan a few extra bump-and-grinds with Blake Griffin.

It was another demonstration of the little things that went into Popovich winning the second Coach of the Year Award of his career.

“I’m not trying to be a wise guy,” he said.

But it was one more example of wisdom.

33 Comments

  1. bords says:

    a trophy or not i still salute at the spurs play making specially to pop on getting the most of what he has on his team over the years… its not that im a solid fan of the spurs its just that u people cant argue on what greatness their organization has… on to duncan(my idol) maybe the best PF on the game it is because he still can match with the young guys on the league right now and on that you cant say that his old… and the best power forwards on the league came on the 90s and until now still dominating.. Duncan KG Dirk and oh on pop vs phil damn it so obvious its pop people., phil havent got a 57th pick and a 28th pick to improve as an allstar..

  2. Baller says:

    It’s amazing just how well the Spurs are playing right now.

    They have depth, they rotate 9-11 players that all contribute to some point. The 3ball is falling because they get a lot of open looks. Tony Parker is playing the ball of his life, Duncan is averaging a solid double double, Ginobili can get it going at any time. The Spurs have size and decent defenders to put in front of star players or all-star caliber players. Diaw and Jackson were great pickups and they fit well into Pop’s concept. And the main reason overall, they are all healthy and rested and they have won 18 straight games and 28 out of their last 30 games.

    I think Chicago or the Heat could have beaten them because they are great defensive teams that can score but both teams are not healthy and without Bosh I don’t think the Heat can win more than 1 game if they even manage to reach the Finals…

  3. Damien says:

    I’d be glad the Spurs would win it all this year. It would prove to everyone (even more than Dallas’ victory last year) that individual talent is nothing compared to teamwork. Plus, I’d really be annoyed by a victory of those braggers, complainers and fakers like the Heat ; and I’m not talking about Lebron, but Wade and Battier, I mean these guys are just like cheaters…
    San Antonio all the way.

  4. Tim S. says:

    It has been a joy to watch the Spurs this season, and especially this post-season. The way they open the floor, move the ball, find the open player driving to the basket, or pulling up, or shooting from outside. It’s been a clinic, so far. But, they haven’t won anything yet. As they all say, all they’ve done so far is make it to the Conference Finals. They’re still hungry and taking nobody, no other team, for granted.

    That is the sign of maturity, teamwork, and Pop’s brand of wisdom.

    One to remember.

  5. XtrmpnoY says:

    I’m a Spurs fan but don’t get me wrong…I don’t think Spurs will have an easy series if they take on OKC…we have to respect what talents OKC have. But one thing’s for sure it will be an epic series (hopefully lol). Spurs on 6!

  6. dre says:

    spurs are amazing team..duncan deserves much more credit than he has gotten over the years..I grew up in chicago watching jordan,pippen and rodman due their thing back in the day andI can tell you that the spurs are as good as those bulls teams were….but credit is due to the spurs and duncan the greatest power forward in my eyes…and it just goes to show that team work works…and to add to all this drama how old is duncan and still doing his thing whenever the team needs him to step up…just like KG in boston..lots of respect to the older generation of all stars..

  7. leirda says:

    man that was a really really effective strategy by ‘pop, not just on reggie evens but to deandre jordan also. but i really loved the most is when he employed hack a shaq when shaq was still playing on the phoenix suns, even though it is really funny but it is the spurs way of saying “you gotta earn your points to us if you wanna be on the stat sheet.”

  8. kknowles275 says:

    Most of us spurs fans are just pissed off because everytime you were to tune into a sports network its like were overshadowed.if the Lakers or Heat win a game by a few points. you see or hear Kobe went off or Lebron had a spectaular night. (which they did] BUT to pick apart one game for almost the entire show??? then break n come back 2 comment [the spurs were good as usual] with a few clips

  9. spurs fanatic says:

    go go spurs!!!

    well spurs is still the best team for me. they are what you call a team.. they played as a team..worked as a team that some nba teams lack. with the best coach and good palyers no doubt that the spurs can make it i the finals. and for those who says that this is a fake season, well, your just sour grapings!!! just accept the fact that your team cant make it..

  10. spursfan says:

    Spurs will win against thunder in 6
    Beat the pacers in 4, celtics in 4, or miami in 5

    end of story, this is the spurs season to lose just like it was kentuckys season to lose in college basketball.
    Kentucky won and so will san antonio

  11. juarsha says:

    yes…. they are the best…..acheche!

  12. gyceespurs says:

    hey lets dont mind all the haters out there, maybe their team is already fishing somewhere.. lets concentrate for our 5th championship spurs.. GO SPURS GO

  13. SpursIsTheBest says:

    You see… Spurs is silent but deadly, they don’t need attention, they all need is to win, and that is what they’re doing. Heat, Lakers or Thunders can get all the fans they want but the true champions are the Spurs, Greg now has the best strategy, Their bench is also great with Diaw, Leonard and Splitter. THEY ARE THE BEST

  14. Jacelle says:

    on to the next one baby!!
    Team fundamentals= Championship!
    GO Spurs GO

  15. bartolo says:

    Spurs in six games against OKC or the other LA team (if a miracle happens). Spurs in five games against any in the east. I am no Spurs fan, but this is their year. They won in the shortened season before and they are going to do it again this time. I won’t call it a fake season, because when you are in the court (as long as the games are scheduled well) it doesn’t matter if the season is short or regular. In the court, a team’s business is to win. Losing is losing regardless of excuses. What determines the game is the moment and not the length of the season. If the guys are old, then adjust. If the guys are slow, then adjust. No excuses. San Antonio is a veteran team, but they are coached by probably the best coach in NBA history.

  16. jonathan says:

    Stop talking bout my Spurs people. IM TIRED OF EVERYONE saying they OLD, Or Other teams INJURED, or this a SHORT SEASON. All you people are making excuses for your teams and MY SPURS. IM ALSO TIRED Of THE SPURS not getting the attention they need, and others like MIAMI and LAKERS Getting More Poise Then The SPURS. TIM DUNCAN IS A LEGEND AND BY FAR ONE OF THE GREATEST TO PLAY THE GAME AND IS THE LAST OF HIS KIND. WHEN HE WINS 5, 5 RINGS PEOPLE HE STILL WONT BE TALKED BOUT LIKE KOBY. Koby Nothing To Duncan, SHOWS YOU KOBY NEEDED SHAQ, DUNCAN CAN DO IT WITH ANYONE. DUNCAN HAS NEVER MISSED THE PLAYOFF, AND HAS MORE PLAYOFF WINS THEN ANY PLAYER OUT-THERE NOW. SAME GOES W POP, SHOULD HAVE MORE COACH OF THE YEARS BUT WHATEVER, ALL YOU HATERS, Popovich is the man and way better then Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson got where he was bc of the talent he had like jorden, pippin, koby, shaq and others. San Antonio is guna win bc of TEAMWORK no other team has that, EVERYONE HAS 1-3 PEOPLE THEY RELAY ON WHILE MY SPURS RELAY ON EVERYONE. EAT IT PEOPLE AND STOP WITH THE HATERADE!!!!!!!!!!

    • Fran Blinebury says:

      really? YOUR spurs?

    • BIGMatta23 says:

      ummm….KOBE

    • Chandler says:

      I’m not hating on you. They’re good. But don’t say that Pop is better than Jackson. Let the championships and the system that works so well speak for itself. Duncan couldn’t have won it without The Admiral in David Robinson, and couldn’t have won it without Parker or Ginobili. Yes its a team sport and the Spurs are a perfect example of it. But don’t tell me that the Spurs have no “big name” people when you just said Duncan is one of the greatest to play the game, which I agree with. He’s the #1 power forward to ever step on the court. You can’t compare Kobe and Duncan. They’re 2 different people at 2 different positions. Kobe and Michael, yes, both shooting guards, and both under the triangle system. But Duncan and Kobe? No.
      Spurs have amazing talent as a GROUP, Jackson had amazing talents in INDIVIDUALS. You guys have by far the deepest team in the league. Its not talent packed into one person I.E. Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain. But look, Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili all are great role players and I’m sure that even Miami would trade their whole bench for just Diaw and Jackson.

      • Sam says:

        Lol fake title? Wow. I guess if OKC or Miami won it, it would be real. Sorry you hate the Spurs so much bro. Seriously…

      • TRU*NBAFAN says:

        A huge difference between the two coaches are, Jackson and the Laker orginazation playcate and pamper their stars, POP does not. He treats theam ALL the same and he and the organization earn and demand respect to the point where no shananigans and drama is even considered. The only drama they had was when Eva and Tony were getting married and divorcing and even then Pop put a stop to Tony talking to the press.

        The also build team leaders like Duncan who is respected enough by the other players where he doesn’t have to yell at them all the time in the huddles (Kobe) or shaming them into doing better (calling them out to the press).

        In my opinion THAT is what makes Pop a better coach.

    • GR says:

      Wow just chill, I don’t see anyone above saying the Spurs aren’t good. They are. They are not talked about because of their market, their marketing, the media. So go blame them and don’t go all paranoid anc stop capping please.

  17. redbear18 says:

    It’s not that the Clippers (or any other teams) are bad. They are talented and a good team, even though they are still young and need more time for their core to develop chemistry. The problem (or not, depending on your point of view) is that the Spurs are so good. They are veterans who have been here before, they know how to play off of each other, they know how much to exert themselves, and they know exactly how to dismantle teams just enough to win. They will probably win the title this year, which is good for them since it may be their last post-season with their core.

  18. wayne says:

    Man, I’m tired of hearing about how Paul and Griffin are injured. Are we to believe they would be winning if they weren’t “hurt” They played well enough to beat Memphis in a brutal game 7 at Memphis. Did they get worse after having some extra time to recover. Only 2 of the last 30 teams to play the Spurs were well enough to beat them. Must be a lot of injured teams tjis year

  19. Belizeboy says:

    This is the kind of coach the Clippers (heck even the Lakers) need.

  20. unknown says:

    This nba playoff is over.SA has won the NBA championship.The only two team able to defeat SA were Lakers and grizzly.OKC will be outmatched in every position.Nice run by OKC taking two of the last five year defending champion.But 2007 champion still intact and better than five year ago.Recent struggle against the lakers show OKC is not match to SA since pop is better coach than mike brown.The west domination this last five year still present.So it doesn’t matter who come from the east.West is gonna win.End of the story.Not to worry this is fake season anyway.Another fake title to SA.

    • alo says:

      How will OKC be outmatched in the SF position.. or the point guard position.

      • Jiro says:

        with Ibaka guarding the rim, maybe the C position gets tested also. KD being outmatched by who? Westbrook outmatched by who? maybe he is talking Fisher being outmatched by Parker well that is true.

    • TRex says:

      FAke season? Every team battled hard to get their name on the Larry Obrien trophy and Kobe or LeBron or Carmello would die to get their names on this year’s trophy. This “fake” season actually means MORE of a grind on the “old” spurs, and Pop’s handling of it only goes that much further to cement his legacy as a masterful coach and tactician. Spurs won title in the shortest season ever (99), then in the longest season ever. Recall first round was best of 5, they changed it to best of 7 and Spurs won the title that year too. The league can change the way it officiates games (no more “illegal defense’ during the run of Spurs championships), change how many games it takes to get out of the first round, even make a compressed schedule with more games in less time to the detrement of veteran teams like the spurs, but it doesn’t matter. True Champions find a way to win even when others try and change the rules. Amen.

    • TRU*NBAFAN says:

      That is the most ridiculous post I have seen yet. Trying to say because Spurs did not go up against Lakers which they beat convincingly twice before regular season ended, is a crock, and Lakers are not even playing as well as they were before the season ended! As for the Grizzlies, they probably would have given more competition than the Clippers, being that Paul was hurt and their role players are deeper than Clips, but to think this healthy Spurs team with their new additions would have lost a series to the Grizzlies is nuts.

      You and people that wear purple and gold underwear are the only ones that will buy into this fake championship theory.

    • Spurrred says:

      How about Fisher outmatched by Neal, Harden and Ginobli canceling out, Splitter outmatching The bench bigs, and so on. the match up problem comes when the starters go. OKC is vey talented, but unless KD and Westbrook and Harden play 48 there is gonna be stretches in the game in which OKC is extremely outmatched.