Gregg Popovich became the San Antonio Spurs Head Coach in 1996. A year later in 1997, the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan first overall in the NBA draft out of Wake Forest.
That next season they went to the playoffs for the first time under Popovich. In fact, San Antonio went on to the playoffs every year for the next 19 seasons while Popovich coached and Duncan played.
As a result, it’s understandable for Popovich to get a little emotional when talking about his former big man.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around why I’m standing here and he’s (Tim Duncan) not. And we all know why, it’s not Tim Duncan to bring any attention to himself. So I figured I’d better come out here and do this, somehow say goodbye to him, which is an impossibility for a lot of reasons. But, I try to think of how to compare him what to say about him, and I got a few thoughts that might be boring for all of you.”
“You know everybody always talks about who they like to eat dinner with. You know if you had one night you could go to dinner go to lunch with so and so, who’d you like to do it with, my dinner would be with Timmy. And it would be because he’s the most real, consistent, true person I’ve ever met in my life. He is so genuine that it blows your mind.”
“This is the way one would always expect Timmy to go out. You know he’s the same person as far as his values and opinions of himself as the day he came in. I can still remember before his father passed away looking at me in the eye and saying that ‘I’m going to hold you responsible to make sure that when he’s done he’s the same person he is now.’ And in that respect he is.”
During the question portion of Popovich’s conference, a reporter asked Popovich to talk about coaching him. In true Popovich form, his answer was a sarcastic joke.
“I’m so tired of coaching him, he’s so stubborn. I would never try to talk him out of anything.”
Over their 19 seasons together, Popovich and Duncan won the NBA Title five times in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. The duo only lost in the Finals once, and that was in 2013 a year before they won their last ring together.
Popovich is notorious for not being a fan of interviews in a way, but he does know when the situation is right for one. After all, he made that very clear back in December with Craig Sager.
— NBA (@NBA) December 4, 2015