Last week, I came across an article on Gregg Popovich that ran on HoopsHype.com. It was an interview piece with Coach Popovich and Jon Finkel. Finkel did a great job with the article keying off of some of Pop's statements to lead other questions -- especially in regard to character and what he looks for in players. Here are a few of my take aways but you can read the entire article here.
Coach Popovich on character:
Sometimes when I hear people talk about character I think it’s a little too general of a term. We’ve all seen a million books on it and everybody’s got a different definition of what makes up character. People always say our teams have character and they know how to win, know how to lose, all sorts of those things. I try to be a little more specific in my definition, especially when it comes to the character of players we bring in.
This response from Coach Popovich gives light to why they have an unselfish culture:
Being able to enjoy someone else’s success is a huge thing. If I’m interviewing a young guy and he’s saying things like, “I should have been picked All-American but they picked Johnny instead of me,” or they say stuff like, “My coach should have played me more; he didn’t really help me,” I’m not taking that kid because he will be a problem one way or another. I know he will be a problem. At some point he’ll start to think he’s not playing enough minutes, or his parents are going to wonder why he’s not playing, or his agent’s going to call too much. I don’t need that stuff. I’ve got more important things to do. I’ll find somebody else, even if they have less ability, as long as they don’t have that character trait.
Great stuff on what Coach Popovich looks for in players (good to share with your team):
Work ethic is obvious to all of us. We do that through our scouting. For potential draft picks, we go to high school practices and to college practices to see how a player reacts to coaches and teammates. The phrase that we use is seeing whether people have “gotten over themselves.”
When there’s a guy who talks about himself all day long, you start to get the sense that he doesn’t listen real well. If you’re interviewing him and before you ever get anything out of your mouth he’s speaking, you know he hasn’t really evaluated what you’ve said. For those people, we think, Has this person gotten over himself? If he has then he’s going to accept parameters. He’s going to accept the role; he’s going to accept one night when he doesn’t play much. I think it tells me a lot.
You starts have to care the load and that means showing they can take coaching:
The other thing I’ll do in practice on a regular basis when we run drills, is I’ll purposely get on the big boys the most. Duncan, Parker, and Manu Ginobili will catch more hell from me than anybody else out there. You know the obvious effect of that. If you do that and they respond in the right way, everyone else follows suit. The worst thing you can do is let it go when someone has been egregious in some sort of way. The young kids see that and you lose respect and the fiber of your team gets frayed a bit. I think it has to be that way. They have to be willing to set that example and take that hit so everybody else will fall in line. It’s a big thing for us and that’s how we do it.