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The Perpetual Popovich

Justin Biehle returns from his long absence with a look into the hopefully-not-too-near future to imagine what will happen when Popovich decides he's done coaching.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Infinite Pop and The Island of Nevruary

"Bring the view lower. We've just got a head of hair here."

"I'm trying. We haven't adjusted the control sensitivity just right yet. If I push too hard, we'll be looking at the floor."

"Right here's good. Now just focus the image. I can't tell if we're looking at Doris Burke or Cheryl Miller here."

"It's Craig Sager."

"Whatever. Alright. Just turn up the volume. I don't want to miss the first interview. Maiden voyage, man!"

"Yeah, yeah. Sure thing. How's this?"

"...didn't really seem to be moving the ball as much as we're accustomed to seeing. What do you plan on telling your guys at halftime, coach?"

"...Hm. May need to tweak the vocal processor."


"What do you mean, ‘what'? Look at him. It's been like, five seconds and we've got nothing. We're just staring at him!"

"I know. It's perfect."


What if I were to tell you that outside the confines of time, beyond the scope of life as we know it, and over the backyard fence of reason, lay an answer to the most burning human desire, the ability to see a life of tomorrows? What if I told you that your relationship with reality needn't be more than the casual affair you maintained throughout the carefree days of your youth and most of college, where the air felt cleaner and the skies seemed more vibrant? And that that one Calc final you're not prepared for but that's coming next Tuesday whether you take it or not didn't define your humanity? What if I told you everlasting life could be yours? Forever!

Over encumbered by the sheer vastness of possibility? Perhaps I had you from the start and you've already planned out the next twenty years, knowing your knees will feel younger tomorrow than they did yesterday, and that maybe this new lease on life is all you needed to start that new diet! Or maybe you dismissed my entry out of hand thinking that I was some pompous and eccentric who makes fools of men and can only be accused of preying on the weak because some people believe anything a man who talks like an excited Raul Julia says! Perhaps you just weren't paying any attention. I implore you to listen to a story then. A quick recounting of a man who listened, and who left behind the life of privilege he'd so stubbornly carved for himself for one rife with the untold potential of attainable impossibility.

There's only so many times you can feel the cool rush of vintage rush past your lips and say with excitement that the drops befallen your tongue capture the essence of life itself. Only so many times one can ascend to the peak of their professional field before reasonable people call you a glory hunting diva that rode the coattails of once and a half in a lifetime prowess and the shoulders of a giant. Only so many times you can question a man about going with a small lineup when the laws of sheer physics side with size in a late game rebounding situation.

When he first came to me, Gregg Popovich was different than most of the other clientele I'd managed to cobble together. Having offered my services to both the worthy and the rich, I'd come across people wondering if their eternal life on my island would be one in which they'd be able to break from the strains of the one they were leaving behind, and those who wondered if they could take everything they'd made with them. Pop didn't ask me anything like this. In fact, the stone-faced request he laid at my feet caught me so off guard that a full 37 uncomfortable seconds passed while I tried to decide whether to laugh or be enchanted at a man whose unchanging facial expression bore the full weight of righteous expectation. He wanted a robot made of himself to leave behind. A robot that would bear his spitting image, adorned in a wit so heavy handed in its trademark that it casts an unmistakable shadow. I was intrigued from the start.

Pop explained that he needn't take anything with him, but that he wanted this left behind so that no question as to his sudden disappearance would reach fruition. I tried to explain that no such query could possibly matter, given that life on my island falls upon deaf ears to the world outside it, and lies just beyond the last sliver of light from anyone looking in. He wouldn't be deterred though, and said whilst making a genuine attempt to shear the ego from his claims, that he wasn't doing it for him. He was doing it because a life like Pop's was one that deserved to exist beyond the ether, one whose voice deserved to ring eternal into the ears  of friend and foe. Besides, he plead, he couldn't bear the thought of another athletic guard ending up on the Wizards and never knowing that the extra pass could have been his to make, if only he'd seen that true greatness lie beyond the twitter.

I felt a kindred spirit in this man, who continued to preach to someone newly converted. I couldn't interrupt him to say yes though, and waited ‘til he'd finished. He said that, as a man of my resources I should have no problem granting him this wish, and I agreed wholeheartedly, instantly selling off ownership of several European football clubs I'd purchased through shell corporations as ambiguous middle eastern billionaires. Funds firmly in hand, I set to work giving him what he needed. It wasn't long before my crack team of conveniently employed professionals had crafted a replica so painstaking in it's authenticity that a child in rural England instantly took a spot up three one dribble in to the corner of the foul line and took the easy two rather than settling for the contested fall-away. It was a sign from the gods. Perfection had been achieved, and good would continue to exist.

As Pop boarded the transport to the island, he asked exactly what I'd done to power our creation, to ensure that something equal parts his would persist into the dying embers. I told him that a makeshift heart was nothing without a steadfast mind, and to trust that I'd seen to it in my own way. He leveled his eyes at me, and I leveled mine at him. As the vessel parted from the dock, neither of us averted that gaze. Before the cutter passed outside the boundaries of the last shadow, I saw him chuckle, and turn his face to the sun.

"That'll do, Pop" I whispered. "That'll do."

So tell me, if a man like Pop can leave behind a book left unwritten to paint upon a limitless canvas, do I have your ear?