Gregg Popovich believes international players become superstars when they play for their home countries. Popovich and the Spurs have been one of the first NBA teams to actively find talent in different parts of the world which proved to be a system that works and now more than ever before NBA truly is an international league and 25 percent of players come from abroad.
Popovich has high praise for international players and said that they are great players because they wouldn't be in the NBA if it was the other way around. Coach Pop said tournaments like the World Cup brings out the best in players because they learn how to play with each other and form and a team.
“I think that our opinion has been all along that all these players from overseas that play in the NBA are obviously good players or they wouldn’t be there and Giannis is pretty special as far as good players are concerned. But when they play for their countries, we like to say that they become superheroes. They get together and, through their relationships and their views about their game, they just form a team that – they fall in love with each other, they enjoy playing with each other. And that goes across the board for everybody that’s in the tournament, and you can see that. A lot of them have grown up together, and a lot of them have spent a lot of time playing together, and you can see that, and it shows.
When asked about the difference in preparing for an NBA game and World Cup game, Popovich said there are many more adjustments in an international game. In the NBA you pretty much know the sets teams are running and players all know each other's habbits to a certain degree. When it comes to international games, Pop believes there is actually more challenge there because at certain times the opposite team does something that they've never seen before.
"But as far as preparing, each team is obviously very different. In the NBA, you pretty much know every night the O’s and X’s of what people are going to run and that sort of thing. But here, every team has a different take on the way they want to play, so it’s actually enjoyable and challenging at the same time because each team is a different war, a different artwork to be figured out. It makes it very interesting.”