Originally written January 14, 2013 on Project Spurs:
Sometimes fans get frustrated when a coach gets ejected during a game. They believe the team has the best possible chance to win if the head coach is out there, especially if your team's coach is Gregg Popovich. From a player's perspective, it's a far different story. When asked about Pop's ejection, small forward Stephen Jackson joked: "Is that my dad? Am I Pop Jr.?" While both men may not be related, they do share one characteristic: a fiery passion for winning. You see that with Pop going off on players for missing a simple defensive rotation and with Jackson when he wants to speak his mind on the court. Pop's ejection did play a huge role in the game for the San Antonio Spurs and a positive one. Jackson got serious about the Pop ejection after that comment: "Anytime a coach does that, you know what that means: get out there and play harder, go out and get the game even if he's not out there at the sidelines. Every player loves a coach that goes to bat for them and it doesn't get a lot better than how Pop does it." Once Pop got ejected, the Spurs got fired up. As Jackson said, Pop "went to bat for them". It's hard for a team to get into a game when they think the odds are stacked against them with the opposing team and the referees not giving them any breaks and that's when the coach steps in. The ejection gave the Spurs an indirect pat on the back that they weren't getting a fair shake and to demand one. The team played harder and with confidence as if they had nothing to lose. Popovich's coaching always has a level of calmness and a respect factor for the other team. Once the Spurs' coach feels the team can't win with that approach, he washes his hands of the play and leaves it to the players. The team has a veteran heavy core and their personalities rub off on the others during a stretch like this, especially Jackson's. His attitude and pride are one thing the Spurs appreciate from him. His fearlessness to overcome the odds when they're stacked against his team are what make him a great teammate. They may not be related, but Pop and Jack share passionate attitudes. They both "go to bat" for their teams and want to lead them to victories in whatever way they can, whether one is on the sidelines or one is on the court. Maybe both men are more similar than Jackson thinks and the Spurs really do have a "Pop Jr." on the court when he's checking in to help his teammates.
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