Gregg Popovich has been facing the heat from a few Team USA basketball fans after their recent losses, but Kevin Durant loves playing under him.
There aren’t too many coaches across sports who are practically representative of the teams they’re part of. Sir Alex Ferguson was a brand unto himself at Manchester United. Arsene Wenger did something similar during his time in North London.
When you move to the basketball world, however, there are fewer of those institutional personalities in professional leagues. The likes of Coach K, John Wooden, and Bobby Knight, to name just a few, enjoy these reputations in college basketball.
But Gregg Popovich stands alone as by far the longest-tenured head coach and President in the NBA. Coach Pop bleeds San Antonio basketball and enjoys legendary status in his state.
Pop’s accomplishments as a basketball coach and GM are too many for us to exhaustively list here. But the noise around how he’s performed with Team USA has begun to eat away at his standing in the public eye.
It’s at this point that we should remind fans how every single superstar in the NBA has wanted to play for him. Kevin Durant and LeBron James are certainly in this camp, as they’ve voiced numerous times over the years.
“Gregg Popovich challenges your IQ for the game every day”: Kevin Durant
KD released an interview on the ETCs podcast on his YouTube channel called Boardroom yesterday. The topics of conversation were primarily focused on the Tokyo Olympics and KD’s outlook towards it.
Eddie Gonzalez asked the Slim Reaper what the whole coach Pop experience has been like. The Nets star responded enthusiastically, noting Pop’s influence on NBA culture and how he’s created a dynasty in San Antonio. He also gave a little peek as to how Pop has been around the current Team USA roster:
“He has been good. Pop challenges you every day – your mentality, your IQ for the game. Physically he challenges you because the practices are tough. He likes to joke a lot too.”
“If you’ve got a little wit to you, then I think you can survive playing under Pop. And it’s good to be around the guys that work with him too. Chip Engelland, Steve Kerr, they’ve all worked and been around Pop since decades.”