Gregg Popovich’s in-game interviews are often terse and reveal far less information than even the usual in-game interview provides. This has become his schtick and it is his way of showing up the NBA and their media requirements for coaches. Popovich sees, really, all media obligations it seems as pointless and distracting from that over-arching goal: winning a championship.
That first press conference with Popovich can be intimidating . . . especially when a young cub reporter dares to ask a question. It better be a good one.
Ultimately though, the TV sideline reporter is doing his or her job. And sometimes Popovich’s act goes a little too far.
Doris Burke is one of the most respected and well thought of TV reporters in the business. She has earned every bit of her reputation and esteem in the business. She is a great basketball mind and a great voice to have in the game.
But her interview with Gregg Popovich last year during the Western Conference Finals really hurt her. First the interview:
While everyone was laughing at the “Turnovers” comment and Popovich’s schtick, Burke was professionally terrified. She told Zach Lowe of Grantland on his podcast (h/t Ken Fang of Awful Announcing):
Two words. I was devastated. It was brutal. It was absolutely brutal. I was almost in tears. I go back to where I sit, and I’m trying to compose myself, because I thought I asked two pretty good questions. And those were those were the responses I got.
Almost in tears. Literally blinking back tears.
I am sure Popovich did not mean anything hurtful with his interview. He was doing what he always does and treating the whole process of those cheesy in-game interviews with his usual disdain.
Knowing Popovich, he probably will reach out to Burke, if he has not done so already, to apologize for this even a year later. At his heart, Popovich is not some curmudgeon. He is a brilliant basketball mind and a caring person for those on his team and who serve the sport.
That is what inspired his tribute to Craig Sager at the beginning of the Playoffs and has made him such a great partner for the Spurs’ sustained excellence.
Burke will be working the sidelines and doing those in-game interviews once again for the NBA Finals with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson joining Mike Breen for the NBA Finals call.