Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can dish out the humor when he's in the mood. Luckily for reporters, Popovich was on his game on Wednesday during the official Media Day for the NBA Finals. Here's some of Popovich's best stuff from his news conference ...
—So, last season, Popovich wrote on an official box score that Tim Duncan did not play in a game because he was old. The box score read: "DNP — Old." Popovich was asked about it and didn't hold back.
"[Duncan] loved it," Popovich said. "He thought it was funny as hell. There were some others who did not enjoy it, but Timmy got a kick out of it and I got a kick out of it. It was fun. And it was true. He was older than dirt. That's the deal. He was tired that night. He's old.
"So I could have lied. I could have said he has a broken ankle or something. I just said he's old."
—When Pat Riley put the Big 3 together, Popovich gave Riley a call to congratulate him. It's one of many examples of the mutual respect the Spurs and Heat have for one another.
"Well, you know, I still call him Coach Riley. I can't help it," Popovich said. "I guess he's Executive Coach Riley and all that, slash whatever. But he's been a competitor obviously his whole career since he was a player in college and beyond. He put together a team fairly, within the rules, that is a monster. So why wouldn't he get credit for that? Why wouldn't you congratulate him for that? So I did.
"I always respected his competitiveness and how he ran things in New York and L.A. and so on and so forth. And as an executive he's done the same thing. He lets people do what they do, puts things together, and he put together a hell of a team. And so I called him to thank him because I respect him so much — not to thank him, but to congratulate him. That's the last thing I do is thank him for doing that."
—Popovich said the Spurs have been able to sustain greatness for a long period of time because Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili aren't jerks.
"I think that it's a real simple answer. Nobody really likes it. They want me to say something different. It's a total function of who those three guys are," Popovich said, when asked about maintaining a contemporary approach with older players. "What if they were jerks? What if they were selfish? What if one of them was, you know, unintelligent? If, if, if.
"But the way it works out, all three of them are highly intelligent. They all have great character. They appreciate their teammates' success. They feel responsible to each other. They feel responsible to Patty Mills or to Danny Green. That's who they are and how they're built. I think when you have three guys like that, you're able to build something over time."
—Popovich on stats, when asked about the Spurs and Heat being in the bottom half of the league in rebounding numbers but being in The Finals...
"I think that stats are stats. And I think today we've had a proliferation of geniuses who have come up with new formulae to prove what wins and what loses," Popovich said. "Some of it I think is interesting and some of it is useful and should be looked at; it can give you trends. But it's never absolute.
"I'll give you an example: One year in the last five, six, eight years, I don't know, we were last in the league in three‑point field‑goal percentage defense. I mean, like 28th or 29th. We went into the next year — no lie — we were second. I did nothing differently. I didn't put in one more drill. Nothing. I didn't talk to them and say, guys, let's get better at this. Nothing. And we were second. I have no idea why. We're still trying to figure out why."