Gregg Popovich, basketball masochist? Nah. Pop and the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs were haunted enough by their heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals that we know that’s not the case. Like all of us, though, San Antonio’s long-time coach says he gleans a strange sort of enjoyment from Kobe Bryant’s crunch-time heroics – even those that come against his own team.
Touching on the prospective season-long absence of Bryant before the Spurs hosted the Lakers on Friday night, Popovich waxed poetic on Mamba’s late-game success versus San Antonio:
Popovich on Kobe: "I can think of a lot of shots Kobe made that's basically knocked us out. In an odd, weird sort of way, I still enjoy it."
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 24, 2015
Even Pop falls victim to the legend of Kobe.
Popovich and the Spurs have a 3-3 series record versus Bryant’s Lakers in the postseason, but most recently lost to the purple-and-gold in the 2008 Western Conference Finals. San Antonio faced Los Angeles in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, but Kobe was sidelined due to an achilles tear that began his precipitous decline. Of the 30 games Popovich and Bryant have squared-off, the latter has won 18 of them and scored at least 30 points on 11 occasions.
Let’s hope we get to see the Spurs and Lakers match-up one more time before either of the pair calls it quits – luminaries like Pop and Bryant (plus Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili) only share the same court so frequently.
What do you think?
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