Failures have shaped Gregg Popovich, even if he denies it a million times
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Failures have shaped Gregg Popovich, even if he denies it a million times

Gregg Popovich

It seems like a long time since Team USA had failed to bring the gold home. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been wanting a chance to right those wrongs ever since.

When the topic of Olympic basketball is brought up, thoughts of greatness often come up in the minds of people — Charles Barkley running a one-man fast break, Michael Jordan‘s air maneuvers around Toni Kukoc before he was drafted in the NBA, and Vince Carter‘s absolute destruction of Frederic Weis back in 2000.

But that 2004 Larry Brown-led team that made it to Athens fell very short of that standard. Sporting a 5-and-3 record and a loss to Argentina in the semifinals, Popovich knew he would be the ideal coach to get the team back on the right track.

While being considered to coach the 2008 Olympic team, talks between him and USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo fell apart, with the latter opting for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski instead.

After being appointed at the helm of the national team starting next year, Popovich has plenty of things on his international agenda. Namely how to replace talents like Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony who are going into the later stages of their careers. Though the main concern being how to catch up to a growing international game that has been catching up to ours in the past 30 years.

Krzyzewski had an uninspiring performance in these Olympics, where he seemed to put more effort into managing egos and keeping them from running into each other, than running actual basketball plays.

Popovich will look to put his own twist into this future team, with his much revered ‘no-nonsense/let’s not kid ourselves’ style of coaching.

The coaching legend is known to run a tight ship, but he’s also known to have a great rapport with his players, especially his stars — Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the newly-retired Tim Duncan.

His ability to communicate things bluntly and being a straight shooter is often what his players value in him, which could be a great asset for years to come.

Former Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan an incredible description of Gregg Popovich’s demeanor.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Is he really that grumpy?’. I tell them, ‘Yes, but he’s also that incredibly nice.’ It’s real and it’s genuine. He’s all about the truth.”

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