Before Danny Green became a ‘3-and-D’ archetype, he was best known as the favorite whipping boy of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. The five-time Coach of the Year nurtured the former second-round pick and Cleveland Cavaliers waivee into an impactful performer with years of tough love, a stretch that still hadn’t ended by the time Green had emerged as one of his team’s best players.
This exchange, for instance, took place in early December of last season:
Some may believe a guy as established as Green would be irked by such a public display of derision from his coach. It’s not like the above was an isolated incident in 2014-15, either; Tim Duncan and Tony Parker remarked on their starting shooting guard drawing the frequent ire of Popovich as recently as mid-April.
Might the chance to play under a more mild-mannered coach, then, compel Green to leave San Antonio in free agency this summer? It didn’t, of course; the 28-year-old agreed to a four-year, $45 million contract with his long-time team on the first day of negotiations.
According to Green, however, Popovich “promised” to use a new motivational approach during the Spurs’ recent free-agency pitch.
Say what you will about Popovich’s gruff demeanor when it comes to media obligations, or even his occasional sideline bouts of disgusted profanity. But his players – and even opposing ones, too – love him, and Green’s light-hearted take on a potentially hot-button topic is the latest indication of that reality.