Some great stuff from a recent Jack McCallum article on Gregg Popovich and the Spurs in Sports Illustrated.
"Okay, watch what they do here on defense against Oklahoma City," says Kings assistant Jim Eyen. "It's simple, but they do it every time. You can see how much Parker is shading Westbrook to the sideline. That's where there defense starts. They take you where they want you to go so they can load up. And once the ball is on the sideline they don't make it easy for you to reverse it. You almost never go one-on-one against them. You're going one-on-five."
"And look at the other defenders. Their eyes are on that ball."
It's not that the Spurs do anything magical. It's just that they do whatever they do consistently, from game to game, year to year, decade to decade. "The first thing you think about with them is that they're well-drilled," says Eyen. "You know you have college teams, Kansas and Duke, that play a certain way? The NBA versions is the Spurs. They are as close to a program as you have in the league."
By all accounts the coach revels in an environment of swirling opinions. "The one way you will not make it here," says top assistant Mike Budenholzer, "is to be a yes man."
Tony Parker says "You can talk to Pop. A lot of coaches you can't."
"Yes, we're disciplined with what we do," says Pop. "But that's not enough. Relationships with people are what it's all about. You have to make players realize you care about them. And they have to care about each other and be interested in each other. They start to feel a responsibility to each other. Then they want to do for each other."
When asked about innovation Pop cut McCallum off.
"Oh, hell, I don't know anything about innovation. Here is my innovation. I drafted Tim Duncan. Okay? End of story."