Thursday, February 5, 2015

How Much Leeway Should We Give Popovich?

In a story posted by Sam Amick on Tuesday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich attempted to explain his seemingly rude in-game interviews. Pop has become notorious for his curt responses to reporters attempting to simply do their jobs after the first and third quarters of widely-televised games. Here's what the coach told Amick:

I said, “I’m supposed to be setting the defense and offense to start the next quarter, and I can’t do my job because I’m doing this inane deal with whoever is asking me a question.” The questions are unanswerable. It’s like, “That quarter, you got killed on the boards. What are you going to do about it?.” “Well, I’m going to conduct a trade during timeouts.” Or, “I’m going to ask them nicely to do a better job on the boards.” The questions just demand a trite quip, or something, so I just say, “You know, it just puts everybody in a stupid position.” And (NBA officials) listen to it, and then they go, “Yeah, well (blabbering).” And then they don’t do anything about it. So I just do what I do.

After a 2013 Notre Dame football game, Irish coach Brian Kelly gave what I deemed a Popovichian response to sideline reporter Alex Flanagan after a home loss to Oklahoma.

Here's what I wrote after that interview:

Kelly's answer is scathing. He gives her the "If you were watching the game..." treatment. The reporter obviously watched the game, and her questions are not extremely off-base. Kelly's answer seems intended to insult her.


People disagree about the value of sideline reporters during a telecast. Still, a negative opinion about these reporters doesn't give Kelly, Popovich, Phil Jackson, or any other coach the right to degrade them. It's especially unfair to imply that professionals like Alex Flanagan weren't even "watching the game."

Back to Popovich. On Wednesday's episode of Pardon the Interruption, Tony Kornheiser said, "His behavior is dreadful ... Right now, Gregg Popovich on camera is Marshawn Lynch, and he's saying, 'F authority!' ... [Popovich should] be civil to somebody for 30 seconds and he doesn't do it, and nobody calls him out on it."

Kornheiser pointed out that the NBA is an entertainment business, and Popovich is paid millions of dollars to play his role. Moreover, cooperating for sideline interviews is actually a small portion of each coach's job description. "Stop embarrassing people," Kornheiser said. 

And that last part of Kornheiser's rant is the most important. Popovich's recent statements are somewhat understandable; the man just wants to do the most important part of his job. Still, it's not up to him to embarrass others for the sake of embarrassing the NBAEven though many reporters have praised Pop as a good interview behind closed doors, he's often rude to reporters on national TV. Every job has unpleasant aspects, and most of us just accept that as a fact. Popovich should do the same.

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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