“You should give love to your loved ones, at your home, in your neighborhood, not on Instagram…” It’s 11 o’clock. The man who has just spoken on the floor, microphone in hand, in front of some 2,000 Spurs fans who were left just after the final whistle, sits down and tries to make himself very small. No one thought it wrong to extend this unforgettable evening with 30 minutes of sermons from this loyal Texan. Indeed, the Spurs club has offered two sections of its subscribers’ stands all year round with the title “Faith and Family”, long planned. Talking about Jesus after a popular gathering of Gregg Popovich’s eager devotees is no small feat. But the message will have found an echo, and rightly so: on this Friday evening a small miracle took place…
By Brieux Ferot, in San Antonio.
The Spurs should have lost this game once, five times, ten times. But providence intervened. As well as the rather crazy emotional bond that binds the coach to his team of young people, who are on average 25.5 years old. Jazz (4 .)e in the west) moved to San Antonio (11and) to thwart an entire city’s plans: finally celebrate a 1336e Gregg Popovich’s victory and final passing for Don Nelson. The festivities were supposed to take place last Wednesday, but the Miami Heat had decided otherwise. Saturday was yet to be played against Indiana, but it was written that it was against the Jazz that a rollercoaster of emotions would perfectly sum up Pop’s career as a Spurs coach.
On this Friday evening, from 6 p.m., the elements broke in: after a particularly harsh and cloudy winter’s day, the sun’s rays appeared right in the eyes of the first families ready to return to the ATT Center. Nothing as far as the eye can see except the picturesque Splashworld theme park and hundreds of children. Tonight is Fiesta Night, and the mariachis are here. Memories too. “Pop, my strongest memory of him is that first title in 1999 in New York, explains Leo, discrete quadra. It was the first time we all felt like we were doing something big together in this city…” The loss to the Heat in 2013 is also very common: “Not for the defeat itself, but for this incredible resilience: to come back the following year and win the title again, it was crazy,” summarizes the young acne sufferer Davin.
In the rafters, there weren’t many people to talk about Pop’s now-famous bloodshots. In fact, it would be the exact opposite. “I’ve been here a dozen times with my girlfriend, summarize Joshua, Well, I can’t remember seeing him in a panic, I don’t understand this reputation. † And his girlfriend to nod. Reagan, on the other hand, thanks Popovich for letting him love something other than attacking. He imitates Ginobili’s counter at Harden in the middle of the alley. What his childhood friend Rubin confirms: for a “military city”, having a team that knows how to defend is the most beautiful tribute: “If we win our titles, it’s by leaving the opponent at 80/90 points. Defense wins titles, when attack sells tickets? In our history with Pop, we were able to do both…”
The pre-match is studious and the American national anthem sung by an elementary school in sign language: many associations of the deaf and hard of hearing have made the journey to the room. Pop’s assistants say hello to relatives in the stands, the players smile at each other, the families like to meet. Even Becky Hammon almost laughs out loud. At the start of spring break, it feels like a race for the season. Behind the Spurs couch, a man and his wife will even ask the Coyote to help them take a picture with Pop. And finance their honeymoon. truthful.
And tuck all this in? He came out of the tunnel at the very end, just before the national anthem. Time to greet its Jazz counterpart. And to hug Donovan Mitchell, very carefully when greeting Dad. The former US Air Force will ultimately have spoken little, but will have used contacts, behind the back, laughter and small words mainly for the youngest, including Vassell, Johnson, Collins. Several times in the match, he will go to the end of the bench to analyze an action out loud so that every minute is a profitable experience for the team. : two of Landale’s actions were explicitly called “stupid” by Pop, without anyone having any complaints.
There will have been hard times, a method the coach masters to perfection to make his herd react to any stoppage. The report of the match is quite simple: the Jazz will have led almost the entire meeting in the score (to +14), and will eventually be overtaken in the money time. Individually, Spurs have missed just about everything they could try. A festival of broken shots, forced layups, three points at the end of the race, erratic free throws and sweaty counter attacks… But together what came out of this team was absolutely fascinating: absence of stress, smiles, jokes, take care to do it right, mutual encouragement, with each player assigned the role of a different spare tire.
Pop will indeed not have stopped rotating the workforce for the first two quarters, not at all enthusiastic about individual initiatives. Landale, Jones and Walker IV received the most lightning tonight. The time-out speech at the end of the first quarter will go down in history: sPop got up and imitated Lonnie Walker IV in a dangerous defense for all, then, with some skill, used the former Hurricanes as a detonator for the others. Attacking Walker was necessarily unfair and this has especially helped the youngest to join forces to rehabilitate their teammate. Smart: The reaction of the rest of the team will have been instant, even if they pay slowly. Until the last two minutes.
The sense of timing and the courage to speak the truth is what also remains very strong in the minds of Spurs fans: “He’s not a politician, but we heard him a lot during the George Floyd affair and it was great,” summarizes Dawn at halftime. Dennis is grateful to Coach Pop for being able to motivate his troops with new behavior: “One day he wanted the players to be a little tougher, and he showed up with a t-shirt that said that. It was both so him and so surprising…” This listening to the other, this difficult balance between telling the truth by any means possible – even though it is difficult, abrupt and can hurt – and showing through gestures, jokes, hands behind his back that he loves his players like his own children, has not dried up over the years.
When the end of the game brings its fair share of alley-oops, technical fouls, missed free throws and Gobzilla counterattacks, it’s the collective emotion of a team publicly displaying the love it has for its coach that will capture the image. stay the evening. Kid jumps, pogos and genuine laughter. Spurs win 104-102. the 1336e by Gregg Popovich. A recording. Taking stock of your professional career is good. But knowing the summary of one’s human life on earth before meeting God is something else. My mother left us a few weeks ago. His life has been good. Amen. † The pastor will eventually have picked up the microphone again, to end his evening. That man is David Robinson…
Gregg Popovich, will have nothing to do but a mischievous nod to the admiral’s faith: “Tonight’s record is proof for many people. We all share this record, it’s not my record, it’s ours. † The collective intelligence of this club is certainly not appropriated. And the Spurs Nation can say that, definitely, this club isn’t really like the others…
Photo credits: Brieux Férot