Gregg Popovich has built quite the reputation over the years for his acerbic personality, thanks in most part to his icy rapport with the NBA media at large. But underneath that rough exterior, Pop is clearly a big softy at heart. His relationship with TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager is the perfect example of just what a decent human being he actually is when he isn’t being badgered by reporters.
Here’s yet another anecdote to help tear down that facade. We already know that, if given a choice, the legendary Spurs coach would opt to dine with his longtime superstar forward Tim Duncan over just about anyone else in the world. Now, we have another food-related story involving Duncan that reveals Pop’s underlying warmth. Via Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News:
It was the thoughtful act of a father. Gregg Popovich would go to a Zagat-approved restaurant on the road with his staff, and sometimes, toward the end of the meal, he would ask the waiter for a small carrot cake to go.
He would then leave the package outside Tim Duncan’s hotel door, and Popovich’s original thinking was simple. He knew Duncan loved carrot cake.
But they say this became a road ritual that went on for years, and that the gesture was about more than a late-night snack. It was a nod to partnership and appreciation.
The story takes on a whole new sense of nostalgia now that Duncan has closed the door on his Hall of Fame career. Pop will surely feel his absence this coming season, but the Spurs still have a tremendous amount of young talent to help build toward the future.