|Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 8||Issue 335|
|Craig Impelman Speaking | Championship Coaches | Champion's Leadership Library Login|
ALWAYS BE CONSISTENT AND ALWAYS INNOVATE - (GREGG POPOVICH)
Greg Popovich won his first NBA championship in 1999. He won his fifth NBA title sixteen years later in 2014. Under Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs have been in the playoffs for 21 straight years. No coach in any professional sport has had a more consistent record of excellence. Popovich or Pop, as he is referred to, has done it with consistency and innovation working side by side.
Pop consistently has clear, direct and honest communication with his players. Off the court he takes a sincere interest in their growth as well rounded people beyond basketball. He has discussions with them on non-basketball related topics and challenges them to raise their social and political awareness, emphasizing there are many things more important than basketball.
On the court he is extremely tough and demanding and pulls no punches. He is equally critical of superstars and reserve players alike. There is unrelenting consistency demanded with regard to fundamentals and team play.
These professional players accept his sometimes harsh rebukes because Pop is genuine and they know he only wants what is best for the team, and that in spite of his sometimes tough criticism, he truly cares about them as people well beyond the basketball court.
Pop is as innovative as he is consistent. He was the first coach to aggressively draft and build a significant part of his roster with international players. Two of his first international recruits, Tony Parker and Manu Ginnobli, became cornerstones of his championship teams.
Pop also hires coaches from a diverse pool of talent. Popovich's top assistant in the 2014-2015 season was Ettore Messina, who was one of the best coaches in Europe. Pop also hired Becky Hammond to be the first full-time, paid female assistant on a NBA coaching staff.
He won his five NBA championships with three completely different styles of play. His first three were inside, ball control orientated, his fourth was up tempo, space and pace and his fifth championship a combination of the two styles. Popovich told the Washington Post. "Standing pat never works."
Former assistant coach Messina described how Popovich encourages discussion when crafting game plans. "What's interesting is that he always pushes his coaching staff to argue with him. Sometimes he reminds me of one of those Greek philosophers, the sophists, who tried to find the truth through arguments. He really encourages discussion and variety of opinions, seeing them as a means to improve as a unit."
Pop is a not a big fan of motivational quotes but there is one from Jacob Riis that he has hanging in the Spurs locker room: "When nothing seems to help, I go back and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it - but all that had gone before."
You can be sure Pop will keep hammering away with consistency while always looking to innovate.
Do you do both?
Yours in Coaching,
WHAT WILL MATTER
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
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