It shouldn’t be as rare as it is to have bosses who want the best for you. But it still is, so when it happens, it’s to be celebrated. Ideally you work somewhere, you get rewarded and if you aren’t noticed or given the recognition (or pay) you deserve, your mentors will encourage you to move elsewhere and help facilitate that move.
That’s not always the case. Especially not in the NBA, where players are treated like numbers on a spreadsheet, and there’s a constant push and pull between maximizing your earning potential and “being loyal.”
So when Boban Marjanovic had a decision to make, he turned to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Marjanovic could’ve stayed with the Spurs – for much less money – but ended up signing a much larger deal with the Pistons in the offseason. And Pop helped him make that choice.
“He’s such a good kid, at some point I had to work to get him to understand that $21 million was different than $3 million,” Popovich said. “I said, ‘Get your ass out of here. Go. You’ve got to do it.’ But he felt bad.”
We often ask why players bend over backwards to stick with the Spurs organization, but the answer is right there in that quote. It starts with Popovich.