LOS ANGELES — All-Star Game practices are basically public shootarounds, with a minimal amount of strategy and a lot of players getting interviewed. They are just the guys having fun.
As part of this year’s 2016 , Gregg Popovich played a little one-on-one with Kobe Bryant, Pop tried to play a little defense. Kobe got by the Spurs coach and scored. Popovich joked around Friday night — before his Spurs faced Kobe for the final time — about why he got beat on the play.
“He elbowed me,” Popovich said. “I don’t know if you looked at that. The guy, he got competitive, and he elbowed me, so he could get by me because I’m so quick I could stay in front of him. He’s a slow old dog and I’m quick, the only way he could get around me was to cheat, so he raised that elbow and cracked it.”
“I can handle his quickness just fine, I just felt like throwing an elbow at him,” Kobe responded with a laugh.
Kobe and Popovich have a strong relationship, two students of the game who are more alike than different (despite wildly different upbringings). They both talked about how they were going to miss each other and their times together facing off against each other.
“They’ve pushed me to really fine tune and sharpen my game,” Kobe said of the Spurs. “I’m sad those matchups aren’t going to happen (anymore).”