Gregg Popovich Was Once So Upset With His Spurs Team That He Ripped Players In A Public Park

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich once ripped his team in a public park after a bad performance in Sacramento

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Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, as he’s guided his San Antonio Spurs to five titles in his long tenure with the franchise. But, man, he sure can be surly at times, can’t he?

Over the years, we’ve seen Popovich be short and ill-tempered with reporters during those sideline interviews between quarters — which always deliver some A+ material — while also being a bit sarcastic in his own way during press conferences. If there’s anyone cut from the same cloth as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, it’s Gregg Popovich, who rarely gives away any of his secrets to the media or opponents.

While we’ve seen Pop blow up on the sidelines a few times after bad calls over the past couple decades, one story really shows how pissed off the future Hall of Fame coach can really get, with some of his former players detailing a time he took them to a public park in Sacramento to absolutely lay into them. No, really, that actually happened.

In a recent piece by The Athletic‘s Jayson Jenks, multiple Spurs players detailed their time spent with the franchise and, more so, alongside Gregg Popovich. Most of the guys weren’t long-term players, but people who spent less than a year with the team; with some even being on a 10-day contract. Naturally, there were some stories, and the one that really stood out was the Sacramento park one, which both Damon Stoudamire and DerMarr Johnson shared in The Athletic’s piece.

Johnson: We were on the bus to go to the plane the next morning. He said, “Everybody get off the bus.” It’s early in the morning. We had to follow him.

Stoudamire: We go into the park, and there’s a homeless guy sitting on the bench, right? He’s minding his own business in the park. And Pop asks the guy, “Excuse me, can we have a meeting real quick?”

Johnson: He’s like, “Sit right here. Sit in the grass.” Some guys didn’t want to sit in the grass because it was still wet. He was like, “Man, I’ll buy you new clothes. Just sit in the damn grass.” He sat down and just started calmly letting guys have it. “Bruce Bowen, you’re a prima donna. You don’t play defense anymore like people say you do.” He just went down the line. And the thing is, all the stuff he’s saying, he’s right about.

That’s absolutely incredible, man. If there was anyone who lived by the mantra “zero fucks given,” it was Gregg Popovich in that very moment, making millionaire athletes with expensive clothes all sit in damp grass just so he could lay into them and tell them they weren’t as great as they all believed they were. Hey, it’s part of what makes Popovich, arguably, the best head coach in NBA history: being honest with his players.

While Gregg Popovich can be surly and clearly has a competitive gene like few other head coaches, the entire story in The Athletic detailed what makes the guy so great and different from his peers, too. From face-to-face meetings with players to deliver both good and bad news, to showing them respect in a slew of other ways, Pop has earned the respect of everyone in the league because he’s been successful doing things his way — and players (mostly) appreciate the cold hard honesty.


Nick Dimengo avatar
Nick's a Sr. Editor for BroBible, mainly relying on his Sports Encyclopedia-like mind to write about things. He's also the co-host of the BroBible podcast "We Run This," and can be seen sweating his ass off while frequently running 10+ miles around Seattle.