Gregg Popovich toys with reporters trying to evoke response over Phil Jackson rip
The San Antonio Spurs were in New York on Wednesday night for a showdown with the Brooklyn Nets at Barclay’s Center. Before the game, the assembled NYC media not surprisingly attempted to cajole the savvy veteran coach into getting in a war of words with Phil Jackson over some unflattering comments the New York Knicks president made earlier this year.
But before that and prior to the team’s 95-93 overtime loss the Nets, reporters asked Popovich about his thoughts regarding the challenges Jackson faces in his attempt to restore the Knicks to respectability. Pop, infamously a curmudgeonly, uncooperative sort with the media, of course wouldn’t comply.
“That’s his problem,” Popovich retorted, per the New York Post. “I will spend no time thinking or wondering about that. I have a job. Why would I care about his job?”
Popovich later was asked about Jackson’s comments in April regarding how the Spurs aren’t truly a dynasty because the team, winners of four NBA titles since 1999, have never won back-to-back championships.
“I wouldn’t call San Antonio a dynasty — a force, a great force,” Jackson opined earlier this year when asked about the Spurs’ impressive run. “They haven’t been able to win consecutive championships but they’ve always been there.”
Of course, Popovich wouldn’t bite, refusing to play the media’s game.
“Ooh, that makes me mad,” Popovich joked sarcastically, reportedly eliciting chuckles from reporters.
Then Pop decided to have some fun with the media. Instead of giving them a juicy quote that would conceivably be viewed as a vitriolic slam of Jackson and his views on the Spurs, Popovich told reporters to make up the quotes themselves.
“Just write whatever you want, and I’ll say I said it. Make it good, though, so you get a promotion. Juicy, ugly, and I’ll say, ‘Yeah, I said it and I’m really sorry.’ … Have fun with it.”
When it comes to his dealings with the media, Popovich, who knows a thing or two about turning tables and game-playing, simply is the best when he is at his devilishly worst.
(Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)