There are a myriad of examples showcasing Gregg Popovich‘s dislike for the NBA mandated sideline interviews he has to give after the first and third quarters when he’s supposed to be coaching. His antipathy is evident any time he’s interviewed; although, he’s also had some fun with the practice. Still, Popovich stubbornly refuses to participate in the charade of analysis in the ever-so-brief Q&A during the quarter break, but he also believes he’s in a different category than Marshawn Lynch‘s own infamous antagonism towards NFL reporters.
Popovich spoke with Sam Amick of USA Today about his disapproval of the practice, but also explained why he’s no Lynch:
Q: So people were asking me all week why your style was considered any different than Marshawn’s. I’ve got my own opinion, but how do you see it?
A: The only time I’m uncooperative is the end of the first or third quarter. Other than that, I do interviews and laugh it up with everybody all the time. I just have a philosophical difference with the NBA, and I let them know it every time. But that’s like 1% of the interviews that I do.
Popovich isn’t lying even if he’s prone to attacking dumb reporters if their line of questioning isn’t up to snuff. He can be thoroughly engaging, like when he poo-poo’s All-Star marketing campaigns, defends a peer, like Tom Thibodeau, or <a href="updates the media on an injured star.
Can Pop be trite with reporters and cut them short when he’s exasperated by their line of questioning? Absolutely, but a lot of people act that way, and after winning five titles over the last 14 years, he’s earned enough respect around the league to get a tad testy when the media infringes on his ability to coach.
That’s his primary sticking point with the sideline issues: they limit his ability to coach his team when they need his guidance the most. We’ll let Pop explain:
Q: Have you argued to have those after-quarter interviews eliminated?
A: Oh, Sure. Hell, I bring it up every year at the head coaches meeting in Chicago, when all the head coaches are there and TNT and ESPN and all the representatives. I raise my hand every year, and I say, “Well guys, you know what I’m going to say. I don’t understand why we have to do this, to subject the coaches and the questioners to this little period of idiocy. They (the TV people) are in our timeouts the entire game. They have cameras in our timeouts. They hear everything we say. They have microphones and they can use anything they want — you know, we trust them. So if they have total access like that, this end of first and third quarter actually takes us away from our job.” And that’s my philosophical difference with them.
I said, “I’m supposed to be setting the defense and offense to start the next quarter, and I can’t do my job because I’m doing this inane deal with whoever is asking me a question.” The questions are unanswerable. It’s like, “That quarter, you got killed on the boards. What are you going to do about it?.” “Well, I’m going to conduct a trade during timeouts.” Or, “I’m going to ask them nicely to do a better job on the boards.” The questions just demand a trite quip, or something, so I just say, “You know, it just puts everybody in a stupid position.” And (NBA officials) listen to it, and then they go, “Yeah, well (blabbering).” And then they don’t do anything about it. So I just do what I do.”
“They don’t need it. It’s superfluous. It’s awkward for the questioner. It puts the coach in a position where he looks ignorant or trite, or that “Well, one game at a time stuff,” or “Well, we’ll try to do better this quarter. Maybe we’ll shoot better.” It’s just — it makes no sense. You can’t answer a question in 10 seconds. You can’t do it.”
Pop was also quick to point out that he’s “gotten to the point where I have to have fun with them now.
“It’s part humor, part sarcasm,” he adds. “If I have a questioner who’s really kind of fun, then we really have a good time. Like (TNT’s Craig) Sager or somebody.”
Of that last aside, Popovich’s respect for the soon-to-be returning Sager is well known now after giving TNT’s sartorial challenged sideline reporter a shout-out when Sager was battling cancer. He was also a part of the NBA’s salute to Sager on Christmas Day, despite acting as one of Sager’s primary foils during entertaining sideline sparring matches.
Gregg Popovich will always be must see TV when he’s getting interviewed during the game, while also being one of the more astute and quotable coaches when given a chance. The parallels with Lynch are thing, and Popovich’s own brand of vitriol for the media industrial complex is almost exclusively reserved for those poor saps who have to interview him during games.
We can’t wait until Sager is back on the sideline to prompt Popovich to add to his answers, but we 100 percent agree with Popovich’s assessment of the NBA’s requiring coaches to give such in-game interviews. They’re stupid, he just has the agency to treat them however he wishes.
What do you think?
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