Says Spurs coach best for U.S. job
December 16, 2012
SAN ANTONIO — Doc Rivers is expected to get heavy consideration as head coach of the U.S. team in the 2016 Olympics, but he sounded more like a campaign manager yesterday.
For someone else.
While Rivers’ name already has been mentioned prominently for the national team position, the Celtics leader is throwing his support to the guy who stood down the other end of the sideline at the AT&T Center last night, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Rivers admittedly has been flattered at the suggestion he could get the job, but he is both a friend and fan of Popovich.
“There’s no doubt,” said Rivers of his peer. “There’s just no doubt. To me, there should be no doubt at all.
“It shouldn’t be me. It really shouldn’t be. It should be Pop. Forget me. Take me out of the equation. I really think it should be Popovich.”
Rivers then cited Popovich’s success in the NBA.
“He’s done it,” he said. “He’s won four titles. He’s done everything. He’s a winner, and he knows how to coach great players. He should be it.”
There is also the fact that Popovich, who spent five years in the Air Force, has paid dues by twice being an assistant coach for the national team.
“He’s served more than his time,” said Rivers. “He’s served his country. He’s done everything that should be required, and he should be it. He deserves it.”
Popovich disagreed with Rivers on at least one point.
“There’s nobody that deserves the job,” he said. “There are a lot of people that can do a good job, and obviously Doc is one of them. He’s being quite humble, but he’d do a hell of a job — and there are other people who’d do a hell of a job. Most anybody would be flattered to be considered for such a thing, but there’s nobody who deserves the job.”
The Spurs regularly are mentioned as a model franchise to be emulated. So whom do the Spurs hold in high regard?
“Everybody knows what organizations have sustained excellence over a long period of time, and obviously Boston is one of those teams,” Popovich said. “I think it all starts, in any good organization, with solid ownership, in my opinion. You know, if you look at good organizations, you have really solid ownership that over the years makes decisions or manages in a way that allows the best to come out. After that, it’s more trying to find people that can work together and be appreciative of each other, feel responsible to each other, want to do for each other.
“We’ve always felt that organizations like the Celtics and the Jazz were really at the top of the heap in those kinds of areas over the years. I mean, there are other good organizations, but those are the two that come to mind right off the bat when you start thinking about long-term success in that way, through the good times and the bad.”
Good night of sleep
Rather than leaving for Chicago right after the game, the Celtics planned to stay overnight here and expected to get in late this afternoon. Rivers cited the need for his players to get a semi-normal night of sleep, instead of arriving in Chicago in the wee hours.
“If I was selfish, we would have left after the game, so I can go see the Bears,” said Rivers, a Chicago native (the Bears host Green Bay at noon Central Time). “I’ve seen one football game this week (Patriots-Texans). I’m good. And it was a good one — unless you’re from Houston.”
Rivers passed up a chance to watch his Bears host the Texans in a Sunday night game when the Celts were in town last month.
“I made a good call on that one,” he said with a laugh. “I was going, and then they said it was going to be rainy and nasty. I was like, ‘I’m not a real fan. I’m not sitting out in that crap.’ ” . . .
The Spurs went lighter on the laundry after last night’s game. The club held a postgame auction in which fans could buy the game-worn jerseys (the alternate grays) off the players’ backs. Winning bidders also got to pose for a picture with the player.
Proceeds from the event will benefit youth programs through the team’s Silver and Black Give Back charity.