It’s no secret that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has not always been the most willing participant for in-game interviews. In the past that has brought about some awkward exchanges as Pop has delivered responses to multiple questions in the single digits. It’s also brought about some heartwarming stuff too as his relationship with Craig Sager has evolved over time.
But it’s not that Pop is a Bill Belichick or Marshawn Lynch type who is merely “anti-media.” No, Pop just finds the in-game interview mandated by the NBA for its national television broadcasts as unnecessary and an inhibiting to his job. In actuality, behind the scenes he’s campaigned the NBA every year to put an end to it. Pop opened up about his distaste for the interview and just how committed he is to get them abolished from his job description in an interview with USA Today.
Q: Have you argued to have those after-quarter interviews eliminated?
A: Oh, Sure. Hell, I bring it up every year at the head coaches meeting in Chicago, when all the head coaches are there and TNT and ESPN and all the representatives. I raise my hand every year, and I say, “Well guys, you know what I’m going to say. I don’t understand why we have to do this, to subject the coaches and the questioners to this little period of idiocy. They (the TV people) are in our timeouts the entire game. They have cameras in our timeouts. They hear everything we say. They have microphones and they can use anything they want — you know, we trust them. So if they have total access like that, this end of first and third quarter actually takes us away from our job.” And that’s my philosophical difference with them.
I said, “I’m supposed to be setting the defense and offense to start the next quarter, and I can’t do my job because I’m doing this inane deal with whoever is asking me a question.” The questions are unanswerable. It’s like, “That quarter, you got killed on the boards. What are you going to do about it?.” “Well, I’m going to conduct a trade during timeouts.” Or, “I’m going to ask them nicely to do a better job on the boards.” The questions just demand a trite quip, or something, so I just say, “You know, it just puts everybody in a stupid position.” And (NBA officials) listen to it, and then they go, “Yeah, well (blabbering).” And then they don’t do anything about it. So I just do what I do.
Q: Have you given up yet as far as trying to get those interviews eliminated or do you just keep fighting?
A: Oh yeah. I’m going to say it every year. I do it, and then … two, three four times it’ll come up, and I’ll say I don’t agree with the NBA. They don’t need it. It’s superfluous. It’s awkward for the questioner. It puts the coach in a position where he looks ignorant or trite, or that “Well, one game at a time stuff,” or “Well, we’ll try to do better this quarter. Maybe we’ll shoot better.” It’s just — it makes no sense. You can’t answer a question in 10 seconds. You can’t do it. I’ve gotten to the point where I have fun with them now. It’s part humor, part sarcasm. If I have a questioner who’s really kind of fun, then we really have a good time. Like (TNT’s Craig) Sager or somebody.
You know what? Popovich is 1000% correct. The only use anyone has ever got out of in-game coaches interviews are sports blogs like this one that get free content. Besides the awkward interactions that go viral, what notable insights have ever been gleamed from these interviews? They’re usually no-win situations for the sideline reporters and the coaches because they are so formulaic and limiting.
But it doesn’t appear that the NBA will be changing their minds on the in-game coaches interview anytime soon. Maybe the best protest Popovich can make is continuing to turn the in-game interview into an inside joke with the likes of Sager and other sideline reporters who see through the charade.