NEW ORLEANS—San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich possesses one of basketball’s best minds. He is thoughtful and insightful.
And he does not suffer fools gladly.
So if you’re a member of the media, you’d better ask a question with merit. The San Antonio media know this.
Apparently that’s not the case with everybody in the Big Easy press corps.
At yesterday morning’s shootaround session, somebody asked about Tim Duncan only scoring five points in Game 1.
“If you double-team somebody, that person’s not going to get all the shots they might want,” Popovich said. “If we decided to double-team Chris Paul every time, he’s probably going to give it up a little bit and not get his points.”
“So that means you’re going to double-team Chris Paul every time he touches it?” asked veteran San Antonio Express-News writer Mike Monroe. “That was joke, by the way.”
“That’s why I ignored it—because it wasn’t very funny,” Popovich said with humor.
But that humor evanesced when a local reporter asked him if he thought the Hornets would continue to dare the Spurs to shoot 3-pointers.
POP: “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.”
SEMI-CLUELESS MEDIA PERSON: “That’s kind of what they did in the first game.”
POP: “They did a lot of things well.”
NEW ORLEANS RADIO GUY: “Will you try to change up your defenses on David West at all tonight?”
POP: “Right. We’re going to probably do four or five things you’ve never seen before in basketball.”
NEW ORLEANS RADIO GUY: “I sense sarcasm.”
POP: “That’s correct. We’re going to spend the afternoon inventing the light bulb. Those CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), a lot of people are having problems with them, so we’re going to think of something different.”
SEMI-CLUELESS MEDIA PERSON: “Do you have any words for Hugo, the mascot, by any chance?”
POP: “Who?” (media laughter)
(Someone chimes in, “the guy who jumped through the fire.”)
POP: “Why would you ask me that?”
The media is laughing now, but I sense Popovich doesn’t think this is all that funny.
TRYING-TO-BE HELPFUL LOCAL MEDIA PERSON: “Talking about the ring of fire.”
POP: “Hopefully that’s over with. We all know it wasn’t a great move. We all make mistakes.”
SAME GUY WHO ASKED ABOUT DEFENDING DAVID WEST: “Do you think you might try to use (Bruce) Bowen on David a little bit tonight?”
Ohmigod. This is going to set him off…
POP: “That’s a good idea! Look at this guy right here! He’s got all kinds of ideas! Let’s do that! What’s he gonna do, get 30? Maybe we’ll put Bruce on him. Bruce weighs, what 90 pounds? He’ll just knock the (bleep) out of him. That’ enough. You guys are terrible…”
End of interview.
That evening, in Byron Scott’s pregame meeting with the media, local reporters asked Scott for advice on “how to talk to Pop.”
“That’s one thing I can’t answer,” Scott says.
When the San Antonio media met with Popovich before the game, they asked him about the morning session.
“It’s a flaw,” Popovich said. “I should be less judgmental and more accommodating to ignorant questions.”
I told him it actually turned out way more entertaining that the typical coach-speak deal we usually get. “And you worked a CFL in there. I had to Google that to find out what you’re were talking about.”
Said Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News, “Yeah, I was trying to figure out what the Canadian Football League had to do with any of it.”