Winners are different. They just are. They’ll do whatever it takes to bring the best out of their peers and colleagues to succeed, regardless of if their harsh words rub them the wrong way.
We’ve seen that in some great competitors in NBA history like Kobe Bryant, for sure, but perhaps the biggest example of a hardnosed winner that didn’t mind anything else was Michael Jordan, as ‘The Last Dance’ reflected.
Danny Green has been around the league for quite some time. He’s played with Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and LeBron James, so he’s definitely had his fair share of competitors across his career.
However, he recently told ESPN’s Ros Gold-Onwude that the one person that reminds him the most of Michael Jordan isn’t even a player, claiming his former coach Gregg Popovich was as mean as him:
“For sure Pop. It has to be. ‘Cause he doesn’t care about your feelings. To be a Michael Jordan you had to be mean. Not many guys have that. Kobe had it… Rondo, he’s one of those guys, he doesn’t care,” the former Spurs shooting guard claimed.
Popovich has earned a reputation in the league for being incredibly hard with his players when he needs it. He’ll cuss them out, call them names, and do whatever it takes to motivate them.
Regardless, he’s still beloved around the league and well respected by most of his current and former players and has built a strong, winning culture with the Spurs that also embraces diversity and makes players feel at home.
That kind of duality and his brilliant basketball mind has made him a 5-time NBA Champion and arguably the greatest coach of all time, so yes, maybe you just need to be mean to perform at the highest level in the league.