We often talk about the relationship between Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich as a reason for the San Antonio Spurs’ success, and rightfully so. It’s a bond of mutual respect, forged from their respective work ethics. Duncan sets the example for the rest of the team by never putting himself above criticism, and Popovich holds Duncan as accountable as any other player.
Yet there’s another relationship that, while not as significant, is perhaps more fun than the storied Pop-TD affair: the bond between the Spurs coach and Boris Diaw. The two constantly poke fun at one another, from Pop calling out Diaw’s weight to Diaw responding with a picture of him drinking wine. Tonight’s preseason game was just another chapter in this incredibly enjoyable saga.
On the surface, this seems an unlikely relationship. Diaw is relaxed to the point of aloofness. His motor turns off and on. If he feels like playing, he’ll play. If he’s disinterested, his production suffers greatly. Popovich, meanwhile, often appears high-strung, yelling at his players while being less-than-polite with the media.
Yet, perhaps the relationship works so well because they both have a healthy detachment from the game. Neither of them are the sort to live and breathe basketball – to them, it is just a sport, not something of monumental importance. It’s brought them both great success, but there is more to their lives than the game. That, coupled with their mutual love of wine, is likely the reason for this unlikely friendship.