We all remember this now-infamous Doris Burke interview of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich during last year’s Western Conference Finals:
Yes, it’s now become known as the “Turnovers” interview. It was funny at the time because as we have come to know with Popovich, he never likes the in-game TV interview and he gives nothing. It may be playful to him (especially in the case with TNT’s Craig Sager), but in some cases, it can come off as mean.
There are his postgame press conferences where Popovich can come off as as a bully and standoffish or have fun with a reporter with no basketball knowledge.
But getting back to that Western Conference Finals interview, Burke discussed her reaction to Popovich’s short terse answers on a recent Grantland podcast with Zach Lowe.
She told Lowe that while she has enormous respect for Popovich, she is scared of being made a fool of on national TV:
“But, yeah, Zach, it’s not fun. Everybody laughed at that, last year – and I don’t know if you remember the moment – but I had asked him something about the offensive end, and he said “turnovers,” one word. Then I asked him about, “OK, on the defensive end, you held them to whatever percentage. What did you see that you liked on that end?” And he said “turnovers” again.”
And she went further:
“Two words. I was devastated. It was brutal. It was absolutely brutal. I was almost in tears. I go back to where I sit, and I’m trying to compose myself, because I thought I asked two pretty good questions. And those were those were the responses I got.
Almost in tears. Literally blinking back tears.”
Two trains of thought. One can say this is Popovich’s act, he’s been in the league for two decades, Doris should have been prepared. The other is that Popovich should be treating the media with better respect and stop the madness.
Overall, it does seem that this is his way of having fun and there is the rare instance when he does step away from being rigid and shows a softer side.
Still, Popovich seems to care more about giving nothing to the media. But by giving little to nothing, we also see a lot about his character.