Gregg Popovich shares sage advice with Draymond Green
Gregg Popovich may have the reputation as a cantankerous curmudgeon — and deservedly so — but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of heartfelt moments of generosity and insight, as evidenced by the sage piece of wisdom he shared with Draymond Green at Sunday’s 2016 NBA All-Star Game.
The Golden State Warriors star said the San Antonio Spurs head coach dispensed a great piece of advice as the Eastern and Western Conference teams were being introduced before the game.
“I was the first one (from the West) announced,” Green said, via mlive.com. “And I was standing next to him (Popovich), and coach said, ‘Man, did you hear what Drake just said? He said this is the game with the 24 best players in the world. You’re one of those guys. Embrace it all, because you never would have thought that when you were at Michigan State, and I never would have thought that when I was coaching Division II, but we’re here.'”
Green starred with the Spartans, leading the team to regular season Big Ten championship, a Big Ten Tournament championship and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen during his senior season in 2011-12.
But his solid play in the college game didn’t translate to a first-round-level of interest in Green and he fell to the second round of the NBA Draft, getting selected 35th-overall by the Warriors.
Popovich’s ascension to one of the NBA’s all-time great coaches was an even longer road, starting with an assistant ob with the Air Force in 1973. He parlayed that job into a head coaching gig at Pomona-Pitzer from 1979-88, a time when he became friends with then-Kansas coach Larry Brown.
This relationship paid professional dividends when Pop joined Brown’s staff in 1988 with the San Antonio Spurs. After some time in the Spurs front office starting in 1994 following a short stint with the Warriors in 1992, Popovich replaced Bob Hill during the 1996-97 season and the rest, as they say, is history.
Suffice to say, both Green and Popovich understand all to well what a blessing it is being able to be involved in the NBA. And Pop wanted him to remember that.