The Spurs have started the season without superstar Kawhi Leonard and with Hall of Fame shoo-in Tony Parker in the G-League. Doesn’t matter. Spurs are 4-0 anyway. Coach Gregg Popovich, the outspoken but curmudgeonly heart of the Spurs, is winning with what he has. What he has is a revinvigorated LaMarcus Aldridge, the always invigorating Manu Ginobili, a wonderful looking Rudy Gay, plus guys named Gasol, Green, Mills and more. Still, Popovich seems particularly light-hearted so far. For a guy whose sideline interview persona can remind viewers of characters in lockup on Blue Bloods, Popovich was positively jovial talking with commentator Jeff Van Gundy during the Spurs blitzkrieg of the Miami Heat. Is it just early in the season, or is this a new Popovich enjoying his twilight years on his way to the Hall of Fame? Maybe both.
Besides Pop and Van Gundy have hugged on the sideline before. Van Gundy has a way with big mean guys, always has. (He got his first head coaching gig after assisting Pat Riley in New York.) But the sight of Popovich playfully pushing Van Gundy around was fun for Spurs fans who often — not always, but often — get only the grumpy Pop version. Van Gundy asked Popovich how he had his undermanned squad playing so effectively on offense, with a young point guard and all. Pop told Van Gundy his secret for motivating the Spurs: “I beg. I beg my butt off. Constantly. If it works I’ll do it.”
You know you nailed the interview when you got Pop to play along. ? pic.twitter.com/bfV36nc0aM
— ESPN (@espn) October 26, 2017