Gregg Popovich is this season’s first official All-Star
One of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovichâ€™s greatest strengths has been his willingness to yell at his star players just as readily as he would the last man on the bench.
Whether or not that works because of who he is or who he coachesâ€”every NBA coach should be so lucky as to work with a Tim Duncanâ€”is a valid talking point, but one that we will get a closer look at because once again Popovich will have a roster full of NBA superstars.
So move the damn ball Kobe Bryant, and set some bleeping screens Kevin Durant, and if itâ€™s not too much trouble, if it doesnâ€™t make you too angry, if you also want to play some defense on the other end, thatâ€™d be great.
Yes, Gregg Popovich is your 2011 Western Conference All-Star Coach, clinched in last nightâ€™s 113-102 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Sideline reporters beware.
Popovich has never been one to care for the sideshow distractions that come with a prime NBA gig, as more than one reporter could tell you. But as much glitz and glamour as the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles will be, the NBAâ€™s showcase weekend will be better for having him.
After all, so few coaches in any sport could combine the coaching acumen, understated humor, and sense of the moment to keep the weekend long celebration in its proper perspective. Popovichâ€™s presence, in a sense, helps make the weekend a legitimate celebration of basketball rather than a celebration of celebrity.
In previous years this would have been the perfect opportunity to crack a few jokes about keeping the Eastern Conference under 100 points, calling early timeouts, or perhaps even benching Kevin Durant one minute in for a failed defensive rotation.
But this is a different Pop, sort of. And this season has been one of his greatest performances so far, as evident by his multiple coach of the month awards.
This season Popovich has embraced the sort of perimeter-based, let-it-fly-from-three offense that makes the All-Star game so entertaining and imbued it with a fundamental quality that still makes for superior basketball.
No longer the practitioner of two seven-footers and a cloud of dust, Popovich should feel right at home with the numerous options this stacked roster should afford himâ€”somehow I think Popovich critics will be much less irate with the stretch four and small ball when Dirk Nowitki or Kevin Durant are the forwards instead of Matt Bonner or Richard Jefferson.
So congrats Popovich, Tim Duncan is excited for you. As is the rest of the league (except Chris Bosh, he just wants to chill). We are all looking forward to your in-game interview.