We forget that Gregg Popovich came out of the college ranks — and not some big basketball factory, but one of those well respected small colleges where smart people go. And you have to be smart to coach those players.
And Pops is smart. And he speaks proper English — not the annoying mother tongue from Oxford, but good grammar and the other stuff that is going the way of the Dodo in our texting age.
With all that, he has a problem with the 17 “world” championship banners hanging up in Boston. And he’s not afraid to tell the Boston Herald that.
“There are no world champions in the NBA, so anybody that has the flag up that says world champions is not correct,” said Popovich prior to last night’s 94-73 Spurs win. “It’s not appropriate.
“The world champions, I believe, are the Spanish team right now. USA is the Olympic champion. The Lakers are the NBA champion. It doesn’t make sense for an NBA team to call themselves world champions. I don’t remember anybody playing anybody outside our borders to get that tag. Isn’t that true? I keep waiting for somebody to tell me I’ve missed something.”
When someone mentioned Toronto, Pop said, “There’s a team in Canada. That’s true. The world’s bigger than North America. I know sometimes we as arrogant Americans don’t respond to the rest of the world, but it’s true. There’s a big world out there.”
The other team that has a lot of banners — the team Popovich and his boys are trying to avoid in the playoffs this year — do the same thing. The Lakers banners up in Staples Center all say World Champion on them.
But not the Spurs. Their four all say NBA Champion, and even have a picture of the Larry O’Brien trophy. The good news for Popovich is he plays most of his games there, so he doesn’t have to stare at the horrible semantic errors in Boston and LA very often.