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Gregg Popovich on fighting urge to play ‘corporate knowledge’ over young players

Earlier in the season, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made the decision to have Tony Parker come off the bench in favor of Dejounte Murray, who is considered the team’s point guard of the future. While he still has a long way to go before reaching what the French international has done in his career, he is already been given a lot of trust to run the plays on the floor for the storied franchise.

When asked if he feels the urge to play Murray to have a better understanding of “corporate knowledge,” the four-time champion coach admitted it’s quite difficult for him to decide who sees action late in games. He also said, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN, that he knows he can only go with one at a given time, but the good news is that the 21-year-old Washington product is learning quickly.

“Yeah, there is an urge. There have been ends of games where we’ve tried to decide whether to leave Dejounte [Murray] out there or put Tony [Parker] out there because Tony will have a little bit more feel for how to end a game. You can’t have it both ways, you know? If we want the young guy to gain some corporate knowledge, then you do that by playing and understandings situations. And we’ve got to keep him out there, which we’ve done. So he’s learning quickly, and there’s a lot that he learns based on who he plays [against]…”

Popovich then said that he feels Murray is getting very valuable experience going up against some of the best point guards in the league night in and night out, which will only make him a better player in the future. He added that he is “thrilled” for him, despite being thought of as something too much to handle for a young playmaker in the league.

“You think about this young kid. He didn’t play last year, really, because he was hurt most of the time. He was hurt all summer. He’s in a lot of ways a rookie at 21, and he’s got Russell Westbrook one night, then he’s got Steph[en Curry]. Tonight, he’s got that guy, I forgot his name that pretty good player [Chris Paul]. So every night, it’s like, ‘My gosh.’ It’s a huge experience for him, and he’s gonna learn tons about how these big-time players conduct themselves in a game; the tricks they use, what kind of talent level they have, how they judge time and score. I’m thrilled for him, because it’s really getting thrown into the frying pan for sure.”

Popovich is no stranger in developing someone from a young age. He had that experience with Parker when he entered the NBA and helped him to become the player that he turned out to be. They also share a very good relationship that transcends off the court, which is a far cry from how he gave him tough love during his earlier days in the pros. If Murray can make the most of the opportunity given to him now, there’s no doubt that he can also be as good as Parker in the future, and also form a strong bond with the veteran coach, who is widely respected around the league.