"Oooh that makes me mad!" Popovich exclaimed, feigning a sour face.
Then he continued: "Just write whatever you want and I'll say I said it. Make it good to make sure you get a promotion. Juicy. Ugly. Really good. And I'll say, ‘Yeah, I said that. I'm sorry.' Go ahead and have fun with it."
Popovich has used that "Just write whatever you want and I'll say I said it," line often enough that I finally decided to take him up on it. So, here's my impression of Pop actually replying to Phil Jackson's comments, doing my best Pop impression.
Is this where I'm supposed to say something back at Phil and start a war of words to make you guys' jobs easier? Gee whiz, it's always the same with you and your *^&$%*@ narratives. You all want to make soap operas about who said what about who, which guy is unhappy with his contract, which guy is unhappy with his playing time, which guys fought in practice and this, that and the other. Can't the game just be enough? Can't that be entertaining enough?
As most of you know, when I was a young man, I could play a little. If we got on the court I would kick every single one of your asses without even breaking a sweat. And I was terrible, relatively speaking. Just awful. The 15th man on the worst team in the league would've killed me.
It never stops to amaze me that we've got this great game with all these incredible athletes and that's not interesting enough for you guys. It's like you have no idea what you're watching. You have 7-footers like Nowitzki and Durant who can shoot threes like they're nothing. You have Davis in New Orleans whose arms are as long as the court and who can catch and dunk from the top of the backboard. We've got that Greek kid in Milwaukee, whatever his name is, who can dunk from the three-point line without dribbling. You've got Westbrook who does all the stuff he does. All these amazing people who can jump out of the gym and run like track stars and shoot it and contort their bodies like gymnasts and do that while trying to do whatever they can to beat each other's brains in every night, playing 82 games in 100 nights or whatever thing the schedule is, and it's not enough for you people.
Okay, none of our guys do any of that athletic stuff. We're slow and can't jump and we're older than dirt. But we're unique in our own way because we compete every year no matter how many of you say we're done. So perhaps one can consider us like a traveling group of magicians, in a way, because we do it with smoke and mirrors. We're like that David Copperfield or whoever.
I'll say this much. For our program to be what it's been, it takes a tremendous amount of competitiveness, not only from our players, but from everyone in our building; trainers, scouts, the staff and certainly from us coaches. We are all consumed by this, all day and night, every day, for eight months, nine if we're fortunate. We're all more competitive than you can fathom in the games, in the draft, in free agency, in research for trying to improve what we do training-wise and rehab-wise, in thousands of ways none of you know about. Every single person in this league has that in them, that passion of wanting to beat the other guy's head in, or they wouldn't be here.
So if all that competitiveness that you see on the court isn't enough for you to write about, then that's too bad. I don't have the time or interest to compete with Phil Jackson in the papers. I don't give a damn.
That said, since we're near Christmas, I'll be a nice guy and play along, just so the next time you cry to your wives about ‘what a jerk Pop is' those poor women who have to put up with your whining can come back with ‘well what about the time he gave you this?'
You guys ask me all the time who the best ever ‘Big Three' is. Is it Bird-McHale-Parish? Is it Magic-Kareem-Worthy? Is it the Miami guys? Is it our guys? Well tell Phil that I happen to think the most unstoppable ‘Big Three' of them all was Shaq, Kobe and Dick Bavetta.
Now, if you excuse me, I'm gonna go coach a basketball game. And if you care, I'm sitting Duncan, Ginobili and Parker because I'm gonna need them in June against Phil and that dynasty he's building over there.