The recent discovery of old audio tapes featuring basketball inventor James Naismith reveal that — in his convictions — Naismith was a not-so-distant relation to current San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. In a 1939 speech to basketball writers, Naismith lamented modern innovations (read: evils) that had been introduced to his game, including zone defenses and the increasing amount of physical contact being allowed.
Nobody does a better Naismith expressing genuine horror at what’s happened to pure basketball than Popovich. Popovich doesn’t like zone defense either. (“What the heck?”) He’s no doubt learned to live with the NBA’s physical style of play. But Pop goes full Naismith on the 3-pointer, recently telling CBS Sports: “I still hate it. I’ll never embrace it. I don’t think it’s basketball. I think it’s kind of like a circus sort of thing. Why don’t we have a 5-point shot? A 7-point shot? You know, where does it stop, that sort of thing. But that’s just me, that’s just old-school.” That old school is nicknamed Naismith U. Paradoxically these guys are both considered first-class innovators. Popovich is also no fan of the 24-second clock (“If there wasn’t a 24-second clock, that would work a whole lot better.”) Naismith nods from the grave.