Skip to main content

Gregg Popovich on DeMar DeRozan: "Knowing what he went through with that trade, I wanted him to know that we cared. I wanted him to feel like he was joining a family.”


Gregg Popovich established himself as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. Despite him winning an NBA championship 5 time and coaching the same team for 20 plus years, Popovich established himself as a great people person who is able to understand his players on a much deeper level than just basketball.

One of the examples of that type of leadership and mentorship was on display during DeMar DeRozan's arrival to the Spurs in a trade that pretty much shocked the entire NBA community. Popovich understood the importance DeMar has for the team in order to keep them in playoff contention after the departure of one the best two-way players Kawhi Leonard.

After his arrival to San Antonio, it was obvious DeMar was not happy with his new team because there was the sense of trust and respect between him and the Raptors organization that he will not be traded at any circumstances.

“When the trade first happened, he was pretty dejected. He was not a happy camper. “And I didn’t know him personally, so I wanted to make him feel like he was at home.”

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

They both spent some time together in Las Vegas, where they were both apart of the US national team which gave provided Popovic an opportunity to speak with DeMar about his new situation. Popovich also learned that DeMar wasn't happy about the trade, however, he made the initial approach which entailed him telling DeMar more about Spurs, their culture and also the system they have implemented.

He also wanted to know more about DeMar and his family but also his time while growing up in Compton. He offered help in a sense of making DeMar feel just like at home when he arrives in Texas.

“It was just getting to know somebody. The basketball court is one thing, but I don’t think guys really give totally unless they really believe that you care about them. Knowing what he went through with that trade, I wanted him to know that we cared."

This is the type of leadership Popovich is known for among his players and colleagues. Personal approach to a person is something that differentiates the best from the good ones and it's the main reason why the San Antonio Spurs have been so successful for the past 20 years and why a lot of players want to play for their ball club.

Utah Jazz guard John Stockton and Earl Watson

”He got real chest hair coming out of his jersey” — Earl Watson recalls when John Stockton took him to school

Earl Watson came up with a counter against John Stockton's tendencies. Little did he know that the Utah Jazz had one move to counter his counter.

Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone and Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley

“I have Charles Barkley’s attitude, and my inside game is as powerful as his and Karl Malone’s” — when an NBA rookie boasted about his game

In 1993, Rodney Rogers generated quite a buzz when he claimed that he was a better version of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Ayton

“A lot of times guys don’t accept that very well” — Antonio Daniels defends Chris Paul from fans and players criticizing his leadership

Antonio Daniels admires it, Kenyon Martin not so much - Chris Paul's controversial leadership style isn't for everyone.

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, Lebron James and guard Dwyane Wade

“We knew that some of the hate was because of our skin color” — Dwyane Wade says the hatred for the Heatles was racially motivated

Wade compared their treatment to Larry Bird's Big 3 in Boston, Michael Jordan's in Chicago and Magic Johnson's in Los Angeles.


”Draymond has become what he most despises — just giving takes for the sake of takes.” — Nick Wright exposes Draymond Green’s hypocrisy

We'll see if Draymond has the courage to respond to this, but one thing's for sure, he took the L for this one.