Gregg Popovich is widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches in basketball history. Known for his "tough love" coaching style and his deep understanding of the game, coach Pop has led the Spurs to decades of unprecedented success.
Still, it doesn't mean his tenure did not come without some push back.
On one occasion, it was one of Pop's own players who challenged him.
In a recent segment of Tony Parker's autobiography "Beyond All My Dreams," the story of Tim Duncan's interaction with coach Pop was brought to light...
Once we were watching film, and he was screaming at me, insisting that I reply. Actually, he was waiting for a confrontation. I didn’t answer. I just looked at him. Then he kicked me out of the meeting: “Out of the room!” All because I didn’t say a word. Tim stood up and came to my defense: “That’s enough, Pop. It’s gone too far.” Pop then made everyone leave the gym, except for Tim, Manu, and me, so that we could have a talk. He explained to us, “We can’t pass up this chance to win. I can’t help myself, Tony. You have to be ready. That’s why I’m hard on you.”
Maybe it’s because I was the point guard, and he knew I could take it. He had tried with other players, like Beno Udrih or Hedo Turkoglu, but it hadn’t worked at all. It actually had the opposite effect. They couldn’t play anymore, and the club had to trade them. He was also hard on Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but not to that extent.
It seems like Popovich was pretty tough on his players, and holding them accountable was clearly something he held very high.
Say what you want about that strategy, but it's hard to argue with the results. Even if it might have pushed some buttons, the Spurs enjoyed years of dominance, winning 5 titles in the Pop era and earning a reputation as one of the winningest teams in sports history.
Of course, as Tony pointed out, only a team with the right players can make things work. Fortunately, Tony, and Timmy, and Manu were guys that could handle anything thrown at them.