LeBron James has high praise for Gregg Popovich
Few coaches have had the success of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “Pop,” as the three-time NBA Coach of the Year award winner is affectionately known, has had a profound impact on the lives of nearly everyone he’s come into contact with.
Popovich is considered one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, and rightfully so. Coach Popovich’s 19 consecutive winning seasons is currently tied with Pat Riley (regular season) and bested only by Phil Jackson’s 20. “Pop” has won five NBA championships as a head coach (all with the Spurs), an accomplishment achieved by only four others in NBA history (Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, and John Kundla).
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar small forward, has always spoken highly of Coach Popovich. In fact, in an August interview with USA TODAY Sports, James stated that he was considering playing in the 2020 Olympics, where Coach Popovich will lead Team USA, saying:
It would be pretty amazing to be able to actually play for the greatest NBA coach of all time.”
“I believe he’s one of the great basketball minds that we’ve ever had in this game, and I wish I could be around him every day to kind of just pick his brain and see what he does, what he thinks.”
After Thursday night’s 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns, James spoke to members of the media with regards to what it’s like facing a Popovich-led team. Nate Scott of Fox Sports recants James’ quote in his recent article.
I think he’s the greatest coach of all time,” James said after his impressive performance on Thursday night against the Suns.
“You have to be sharp, mentally and physically, when you go against his ballclub. If you were an NFL player, it’s probably the same as going against a (Bill) Belichick team,” James continued. “What they’re going to do, they’re going to do, and you have to try to figure it out.”
"He's the greatest coach of all time." – LeBron on Pop https://t.co/Rzu0BHvp1y
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 20, 2017
There is a mutual respect and admiration between Popovich and James, as USA Today Sports reports.
He’s a great player. He’s not just athletic. He’s incisive,” Popovich said early in the 2014-15 season. “He understands the game the way Magic (Johnson) did, the way Larry (Bird) did, the way Tim Duncan does. He knows a whole lot more of about what he’s doing and what he has been doing than you all. He’s a character guy, he’s good people, and he’s got a great heart.”