Gregg Popovich is simply the best coach in basketball.
But he comes with inherent contradictions — he is both the curmudgeonly guy who has no use for Craig Sager between quarters and the guy players love and would run through a wall for. He is the guy who was perfectly happy coaching at no-scholarship, below D-III Pomona-Pitzer (where he recruited current lead assistant Mike Budenholzer) and the guy who is the head coach of the amazing Spurs dynasty.
If you read one thing today, it should be the fantastic Popovich profile by Joe Posnanski here at NBCSports.com. (If you think I’m promoting this just because I want to make my bosses happy, you don’t know me very well.)
Posnanski gets into all of it.
“Pop is first and foremost, a salt-of-the-earth good guy,” says Danny Ferry, who played for Pop, worked with Pop and is now GM of the Atlanta Hawks.
Yes, it begins there. People just like Pop. They can’t help it. Announcers who get little access and information still like Pop. Reporters he crushes with sarcasm still like Pop. Players he screams at or cuts down with biting remarks still like Pop. It is uncanny. “He has the best demeanor of any coach,” Kansas coach Bill Self says in deep admiration. “The absolute best.”
In a world of snippets of information without context, Posnanski is an antidote with fantastic long profiles and storytelling.
Trust me, just go read the whole thing. You’ll be happy you did. (And you can make my bosses happier in the process.)
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Bulls acquired Dinwiddie in a trade with Detroit last month and waived him three weeks ago. He spent two years with the Pistons and appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 13.3 minutes.
The Bulls announced the move Thursday.
The Wizards are getting a new practice facility.
For some reason, the Wizards have to pay just $4.46 million for it. Washington D.C. will cover the rest.
How much is the rest?
Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post:
The District”s sports and convention arm, Events DC, is proposing a series of upgrades to a planned Washington Wizards practice facility and entertainment center in Southeast that would likely reduce the total number of seats but add $10 million to the original $55 million price tag.
The new spending would be paid for by Events DC, which is funded by a percentage of hotel occupancy taxes. It does not require approval by the D.C. Council but will have to be voted on by the Events DC board Aug. 11.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis pledged to move the team’s practices there as well as home games for the Washington Mystics and a future Wizards’ NBA D-League affiliate team. His company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, agreed to pay $4.46 million — or 8 percent of the original $55 million cost.
But in a July 26 letter to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive of Events DC, wrote that the original $55 million budget was “based on a preliminary estimate, as development and analysis of the program and concept design had not yet been performed.”
So, the District agreed to pay for a project without knowing how much it would cost and got the primary beneficiary — Leonsis — to kick in a share based on a low early estimate? It’s almost as if politicians are inept or have ulterior motives.
At least Wizards practices and WNBA games will bring plenty of new money into the community.
As Leonsis said, “There’s never been a better time to be an owner of an NBA franchise.”