Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tony Parker has opened up about his life more than any other San Antonio Spurs great since retiring, with the recent release of his documentary “The Final Shot” on Netflix, to his autobiography Beyond All My Dreams last year.
In one excerpt from his book, he discusses the time Tim Duncan — who hardly talked to Tony his rookie season and once doubted his teammate’s ability to lead them to a championship — came to his defense when he felt Gregg Popovich’s verbal explosions had gone too far.
Once we were watching film, and he was screaming at me, insisting that I reply. Actually, he was waiting for a confrontation. I didn’t answer. I just looked at him. Then he kicked me out of the meeting: “Out of the room!” All because I didn’t say a word. Tim stood up and came to my defense: “That’s enough, Pop. It’s gone too far.” Pop then made everyone leave the gym, except for Tim, Manu, and me, so that we could have a talk. He explained to us, “We can’t pass up this chance to win. I can’t help myself, Tony. You have to be ready. That’s why I’m hard on you.”
It’s important to note that Parker reminds everyone that he didn’t take it too hard and actually appreciated Pop’s style of coaching him, feeling it made him the best player he could possibly be. But as is the case when Pop gets kicked out of a game a few times per season, sometimes his passion can get the best of him and he has to be reigned back in. This was one of those moments.
In fact, Tony even mentions a couple of players that Pop’s style didn’t work so well on: Beno Udrih and Hedo Turkoglu.
Maybe it’s because I was the point guard, and he knew I could take it. He had tried with other players, like Beno Udrih or Hedo Turkoglu, but it hadn’t worked at all. It actually had the opposite effect. They couldn’t play anymore, and the club had to trade them. He was also hard on Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but not to that extent.
It’s a well known fact that players have to buy in to Pop’s system and the Spurs Way to play for him, but that little tidbit on Udrih and Turkoglu is interesting. Both started off strong for the Spurs in the mid-2000’s before their production waned, and while Turkoglu actually left the Spurs for the Orlando Magic in free agency (not a trade) despite receiving a similar offer from the Spurs, it’s worth wondering if this was a reason why.
Regardless, Pop is far from the first coach who is/was known to be hard on his players, and the results speak for themselves. It’s also nice hearing even more confirmation that Timmy always had his teammates backs, even if it sometimes meant standing up to Pop.