On Monday at San Antonio Spurs media day, head coach and future Hall of Famer Gregg Popovich met with the media to answer questions about his team’s hopes to win another championship this season. And also his beard.
NBA TV’s Jared Greenberg got the first crack at asking Pop some queries, and the interview went horribly, increasing in awkwardness with each exchange until Pop finally let Greenberg off the hook in one of the great “punk’d” moments in NBA TV history.
It’s enough to make you cringe with every hard swallow and bead of sweat. This was like watching a small animal caught in a box with no ability to escape even though we knew the box had no lid and we all kept yelling “just jump out!”
Greenberg was a good sport about it—as if he had a choice—in part because he handled the situation as best as anyone could. And, well, everyone is talking about him and NBA TV now, so it’s a win all around for them.
— Jared Greenberg (@JaredSGreenberg) September 28, 2015
We thought it would be fun to set some ground rules for media who might be in a similar situation this NBA season. Remember, Pop isn’t usually joking when he treats the media this way. He will almost always reward a good question with an insightful answer, but he will devour you if you ask something stupid.
Gregg Popovich gets a "talk about" question at his press gaggle. His response: "What would you like me to talk about?"
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) September 28, 2015
With that, let’s explore some simple do’s and don’ts of asking Gregg Popovich questions during the 2015-16 NBA season.
- Do not ever tell Pop you don’t understand the game before asking him to explain something nearly unexplainable.
- Do not bother asking Pop a question during the quarter break in a playoff series. You will get at most a five word answer, probably less, and it will be about either shots or effort. Do know that Pop probably doesn’t hate you, Mr. or Ms. Sideline Reporter, he just hates your job and that you have to bother him while he is doing his.
- Do ask Pop insightful questions about the game that cannot be answered with a yes or no, but do NOT try to sneak in a third question, even if you are a Hall of Famer.
- Do explore Pop’s feelings. Or don’t. I’m not entirely sure on this one.
- Do not ask Pop where he sees things. He will destroy you before telling you he loves you.
- Do not ask yes or no questions, say “talk about” or use impossible to quantify metrics like “how much” did a player hurt his team after a playoff loss. Do not ask what the Spurs “need to do better” to win the next game. Pop is in no mood. You should know better.
- Do ask short, direct, insightful questions after losses, like “have you [ever] lost a series where your team did so many things to win the series?” If Pop says it’s a great question, he’ll give a great answer.
- Do not ask Pop if he’s able to appreciate the moment of a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. He will tell you it is torture. Having said that, if you wait a minute and ask if it’s more torturous talking to the media or coaching in said Game 7, he’ll give you a great answer.
- Do ask Pop about the mindset of his players after a big loss. He likes the mindset question, if he can remember it after telling everyone how much he likes it.
- Do not ask a painfully slow question about the opposing team’s coach if you expect more than a seven-word answer.
- Do not ask a question about the opposing team’s coach at all, really. Especially not “why” Pop thinks he is a great coach. You might be there all day.
- Do not ask about overhauls. Or, probably, overalls. Or definitely not the Hornets two years ago.
- Do not ask Pop a question like, “was there ever a moment when you realized ‘this is going to be serious,'” then get frustrated when he doesn’t give you the answer you wanted. He will make fun of you, and Serbians.
- Do ask your dad for help with questions for Pop. Though if your last name is Sager, your dad is probably smart enough to tell you that you’re on your own.