Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 5/6/13
Gregg Popovich is a very clever coach. He has won four NBA championships and keeps the San Antonio Spurs competitive regardless of personnel or injury. He is widely regarded as the top coach in the league, and his mental ability is a big reason why. Take for instance what he did prior to the Spurs’ Western Conference semifinals playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. Pop was extremely praiseworthy of the Warriors when speaking about them before the series began. “They’re a very good team. They play good ‘D’. They rebound. They’ve got great pace, great skill players, good role players, and Mark has given them a philosophy they’ve all bought into, and it’s one heck of a squad. So they’re in the second round for a reason,” Popovich said of Golden State, via KENS 5. He also recently said watching Stephen Curry shoot was like watching Michael Jordan play. Curry had a humorous response Sunday when presented with the comment. He asked if Pop was drunk at the time. Even though Popovich’s comment was made two weeks ago, you have to wonder if this isn’t part of a bigger strategy to soften up the Warriors before the series. Phil Jackson was notorious for priming officials by complaining about a player’s questionable technique ahead of a playoff game. Is this much different? The strategy of praising and over-praising opponents is very much in line with what Bill Belichick does in football. According to the Patriots’ rules for dealing with the media, that’s one of Belichick’s biggest strategies. Not only do you not give the opposing team “bulletin board material” if you’re busy praising them, but you can also disarm a competitor by complimenting them. Isn’t that exactly why Michael Jordan would take opponents out to dinner before games? Pop knows exactly what he’s doing.
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