Monday, November 27, 2017

Gregg Popovich's 4 Most "Winning" Qualities

The San Antonio Spurs have set an amazing record of games won—in fact, they presently hold the title on such.  It’s hard to say, though, that the reason behind their success has been because they have had the most talented players in the NBA.  They haven’t. 

What, then, is the main reason for such a high number of wins?  Maybe the answer will “Pop” into your head as you read this article . . .

Outspokenness as a Sign of Hardcore Sincerity

Popovich has proven time and time again that he’s not afraid to speak out even about topics that have traditionally been taboo for people in the entertainment industry.  He’s been known, for example to elaborate freely on his views regarding things like white privilege, systemic racism and income inequality.  Then again, he doesn’t just rant and rave incoherently—in fact, his comments seem to have been well-coordinated, well-reasoned and, in most cases, even cogent.

Some other people in high places also speak out but it soon becomes clear that they are only garnering public attention and putting on a show.  With Popovich, however, it all seems to be coming from the heart, as if he really believes what he’s saying and is ready to stand behind it no matter what the consequences.  In other words, he has something that is rare these days: SPINE.

Of course, if you do this too often, at the wrong time or for superficial reasons, being outspoken can backfire.  Outspokenness works for Popovich, though, because he chooses his moments very carefully, usually doesn't go overboard, and people can see that he's not just being superficial and petty.

How many public figures, for example, have the gumption to call the President of the United States a “soul-less coward?”  Popovich, a former Air Force veteran, though, has done just that.  In fact, he has questioned President Donald Trump’s integrity and honesty several times. 

Fortunately, this outspokenness on the part of Popovich hasn't been, for the most part, detrimental to his career or to the team he manages.   Even people that may not agree with his politics respect his right to express his opinions--more importantly, they respect his sincerity and his superlative coaching skills.


Some of us would say that much of what’s wrong today in society is the fact that there isn’t enough accountability for much of what goes on all around us.  Holding people accountable for their actions should be standard practice but, let’s face it, this can be a risky policy or expectation.  Some people don’t want to be held accountable; they just want to be left alone—so what if they put in only minimum effort into everything they do? 

Letting politicians and people in charge of big companies get away with that twisted philosophy may be okay (or at least something that most people can’t do anything about) but, when you manage a professional basketball team, you have to impose higher standards and, apparently, Popovich does.                                                                                      


When asked about how he deals with the big heads and inflated egos of his top players, Popovich admitted that he respectfully and soothingly communicates with (rather than talking down to) them.  Then again, he added that the way he talks to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker is the same way he talks to the other players.  He’s willing to accommodate the different personalities, treating each as if he’s the best player on the team—or the worst player, as the case may be.

When it comes to expectations on the court, though, there is no difference.  Everyone is expected to pull his weight equally and to live up to the same high standards.  This may sound like the diplomatic thing to say but, when it comes to the players, you can’t fake this kind of thing.  They know when they’re being treated fairly, and this can greatly affect the very complicated relationship between players and coaches. 

It’s clear that in this department, Popovich gets high marks.


All coaches have to get along well with other coaches, the owners, the players, etc.  That’s a given.  But what some people underestimate is how important it is for coaches to get along well with the public in general and, more importantly, the press.  Confrontational relationships between the media and some coaches is almost always bad news for teams. 

After all, journalists can greatly help professional teams out—if by no other way than by giving them free advertising and exposure.  There is also a question of image.  How people view players and teams in general can change like the weather—that’s true—but it’s not as if players and teams don’t have some control over things. 

If all the media reports are scandals and instances of bickering and in-fighting behind the scenes, why shouldn’t the public form negative opinions?  On the other hand, a well-run media smoothing-out campaign can do much to repair bad relations.  Having the right type of charismatic, well-spoken, articulate and knowledgeable coach is another way teams can score big with the media.  Gregg Popovich easily falls under those categories. 

He has an imposing presence, is a good communicator and seems to know the importance of having good rapport with the press. His entertaining interchanges with Craig Sager (before he passed away) remain an excellent example of how coaches can use the media for the continued, valuable benefit of the team.  It’s been reported that Popovich hated those after-game, inane-questions interchanges but he did them anyway, and not just to help his friend Sager out.  


Gregg Popovich may not be the most flamboyant, most-liked or most interesting coach that the NBA has seen fit to hire, but he definitely has many qualities which not only have enhanced his career but have also helped his team and the NBA.  At any rate, his stats are some of the best of any coach we can mention.  

Under his tutelage, the Spurs won 5 championships, accumulated the best “games won over-all percentage” (62.1) and been in contention for the championship repeatedly.  In every sense of the word, this man has a green thumb for winning.     

One can make the argument, though, that the Spurs haven’t had the most talented players in the league.  In fact, other teams that have performed more poorly had better talent on their rosters.  How then can we explain all those wins?  The most obvious variable is, of course, good coaching.  

Can the spurs win that sixth NBA championship for the 2017-2018 season?  That remains to be seen but, one thing is certain, you need someone at the helm that has the “winning” qualities that can help even moderately-talented teams out-perform other teams with more talented players.  

In the end, you see, it’s not always the highest quantity of skills and talent that prevails but, rather, the highest quality of coaching.  If nothing else, Gregg Popovich has proven that convincingly.  

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