Gregg Popovich is a total disaster as Team USA head coach
It needs to be said: Gregg Popovich has been an absolute disaster as the head coach of Team USA. In the NBA history books, the San Antonio Spurs mentor is one of the best to ever do it. On the international stage, however, it’s a bit of a different story. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Popovich’s international coaching record speaks for itself. He is at 6-3 dating back from the 2019 FIBA World Cup (11-6 if we’re including the pre-tournament exhibitions). Team USA also finished 7th in the aforementioned tournament and dropped its 2020 Tokyo Olympics opener to France, 83-76, marking the country’s first loss in the Olympics since 2004. While it’s still possible for them to recover and redeem themselves in the Olympics by bagging the gold, things are definitely looking dark for Pop and company, considering Team USA has gone 3-5 in its last eight games against international competition.
For comparison, former Team USA Mike Krzyzewski went an insane 88-1 in his 10-year stint at Team USA head coach. He led them to three Olympic gold finishes and three FIBA World Cup medals.
Records aside, Team USA under Gregg Popovich hasn’t just looked the same. Their embarrassing loss to France speaks for itself. The Frenchmen closed the game on a 16-2 run over the final 3:41 of the game. There is absolutely no reason for that to happen, especially with the amount of talent they have on their team and the supposed leadership of the head coach. Instead, they muffed on all but one of their shots down the stretch and were not able to stop the bleeding from a furious French rally to close the game. Pop deserves blame for the loss with his failure to gather his troops together as the game slipped away.
What makes it worse is that Pop doesn’t seem to have some accountability for dropping the ball yet again. After the loss to France, he went on a spiel saying we shouldn’t be “surprised” with the defeat, while also suggesting how the rest of the world is just getting better and catching up to Team USA. But the fact of the matter is, based on talent alone, Team USA should be better. Team USA should be winning these games they shouldn’t have lost in the first place.
Well, maybe Gregg Popovich is right. We shouldn’t be surprised. Team USA did prepare their countrymen for this with two losses during the pre-tourney exhibitions. I mean, they dropped a game to Nigeria and that hasn’t happened to any Team USA squad ever. Then they lost another one to Australia, one of the favorites to win gold in this Olympic tournament.
Team USA players such as Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, and Jayson Tatum also pointed to the squad’s lack of chemistry as the main reason for their struggles. That’s certainly valid, considering this group hasn’t even been together for a month. Add the fact that the team even underwent some roster changes just a couple of days prior to the start of the tournament. Pop obviously doesn’t have much control with the players’ commitments. Still, with the talent on the team, late-game meltdowns such as the one they had against Nigeria and France should not happen under his watch.
In addition, there are reports that several Team USA members are already growing disgruntled with Gregg Popovich bringing his Spurs offensive system to the helm. This is an indication that the team has not completely bought into their head coach and this is definitely a concerning development while the tournament progresses.
Nonetheless, Team USA still has time to turn things around. Unfortunately, only a gold medal can salvage them now.