Gregg Popovich is considered one of the best coaches in NBA history. His stature has commanded respect from people all over the league. Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo is one of those people who holds Popovich in high regard. However, he doesn’t necessarily fear the San Antonio Spurs head coach like most people.
“You cut me”
In 2019, Popovich cut Adebayo from the USA Team that competed in the World Cup. Getting cut was frustrating enough, but then the Americans finished seventh in the World Cup, which inevitably added more fuel to Adebayo’s fire. Now, he holds a deep grudge against Popovich.
“I felt like I should have been on the team. When I got to the Olympics, I had to let my animosity go because he was my coach at the time. But when we left, I let him know, ‘Look, for the time being in this Olympics, we’re cool. You’re my coach, I’m your player. We’re gonna be like you and Tim [Duncan]. But when we leave, just know I’ll never forget that you cut me,’” Adebayo said, per Sports Illustrated.
Adebayo is built differently. There are not a lot of players who can say on camera that they hold a vengeance against of the greatest coaches of all time. Perhaps the most popular player who loathed Popovich is Dennis Rodman. But then again, Rodman is a special type of player.
Adebayo finally got his wish of donning the Team USA jersey. This time, it was on a bigger stage: the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Americans walked away with the gold. Let’s note that Adebayo admitted his grudge against Popovich just this year. This means that being part of Team USA and winning the gold did not alleviate Adebayo’s ill feelings towards Pop.
Perhaps this is why Adebayo has risen as one of the best forwards in today’s game. The man is a defensive freak and one of the pillars of the Heat for the past few years. Unfortunately, Popovich and the Spurs have been rebuilding for the past few seasons. Games between the Heat and Spurs would’ve been epic. But this shouldn’t deter us from tuning in to our TV screens whenever Popovich and Adebayo meet.