Linked Press — The final buzzer sounded at the Tokyo Olympics, the gold medal for the U.S. was received and Gregg Popovich held his thoughts in check for at least a few of minutes.
He shook palms with France coach Vincent Collet. He consoled some of the French players who had to settle for silver. His expression hardly modified.
And then he walked across the court, to a small group of people today in the very first pair rows of the stands. That is when the emotions started to flow, when he embraced a group that incorporated Ime Udoka, Will Hardy, Chip Engelland and Jeff Van Gundy. The persons who gave up their summer season, quietly, to help him out.
“I’m nonetheless smiling,” Popovich said.
Relationships subject to Popovich extra than the wins.
That is why he’s continue to coaching. And if Popovich knows how a lot lengthier he’ll coach, he’s not saying. But the remaining chapter of his coaching life is coming. He turns 73 in January. He’s in his 26th year on the San Antonio Spurs sideline. He has faced 158 distinctive coaches in the NBA, or around fifty percent of anyone who has coached in the league’s 75 seasons.
His resume has no stop. He is a 5-time NBA champion, coach of an Olympic gold medalist and anyone who will be a Basketball Corridor of Famer right after he retires — an honor he does not want right up until just after he is accomplished coaching. And this year, the oldest mentor in the league is main 1 of the youngest rosters he’s at any time had.
All that said, if everything, the gold medal didn’t depart Popovich thinking there was no stone still left to flip. It seemed to reinvigorate him.
“We were being happy, we required to do it for him and support him do it,” explained Udoka, now in his initial year coaching the Boston Celtics. “And so, to see the aid and get that monkey off his back, so to talk, it was a terrific time for all of us. So quite a few several hours spent driving the scenes, grinding absent and seeking to figure out how to make that workforce the finest.”
Udoka is an case in point of how deep the ties operate in Popovich’s incredibly small circle of have confidence in. When Udoka received hired by the Celtics, Popovich mentioned he’d recognize if Udoka still left his purpose with the U.S. crew to go aim on the new undertaking in Boston.