Gregg Popovich sits atop the list of most wins by a coach in the history of the NBA. He got there through perseverance, hard work, patience, and some quirky coaching tactics.
”That's some Pop sh*t.”
Being a great coach is as much about communication as it is about knowing the game. That means you have to convey your message in many different ways to make sure everyone gets the point. Gregg Popovich is very creative about that part of coaching.
Pop once made his players watch a documentary about penguins to drive a point about teamwork. DeMar DeRozan shared what it was like in an ESPN interview with former players as a tribute to the Spurs coach.
"I remember Pop made us watch a penguin National Geographic movie," DeRozan said. "It was very interesting. It was basically learning about teamwork. How to come together as one and go after a common goal, whatever that goal was. I thought it was going to be a day where we watch film. But we watched a full penguin movie - and it was the most interesting sh*t. But everybody basically playing their role. But to look at it from the perspective of penguins, that's some Pop sh*t.”
DeMar DeRozan’s stint in San Antonio
A great coach must know when to go beyond the Xs and Os. The San Antonio Spurs have been a successful team and organization because of Pop, and it was a testament to his greatness as a mentor, leader, and individual.
DeRozan played in San Antonio for three seasons. Coming from an All-Star year as a Toronto Raptor, a lot was expected from DeRozan, but his stint in San Antonio was not as fruitful as projected -- he never made the All-Star game playing under Popovich.
Meanwhile, after he was traded to the Chicago Bulls, DeMar rediscovered his old lethal self, broke scoring records, and even made the All-Star in his first season. Could it be that Coach Pop’s system limited DeRozan to do more things on the floor offensively? Apparently, the trick worked as the players put teamwork above individual brilliance.
DeMar's playing at an All-NBA level, and it's in no small part because of the lessons learned under Gregg Popovich.