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Gregg Popovich has a problem with your "world" champions

Mar 29, 2010, 8:20 AM EDT

We forget that Gregg Popovich came out of the college ranks — and not some big basketball factory, but one of those well respected small colleges where smart people go. And you have to be smart to coach those players.

And Pops is smart. And he speaks proper English — not the annoying mother tongue from Oxford, but good grammar and the other stuff that is going the way of the Dodo in our texting age.

With all that, he has a problem with the 17 “world” championship banners hanging up in Boston. And he’s not afraid to tell the Boston Herald that.

“There are no world champions in the NBA, so anybody that has the flag up that says world champions is not correct,” said Popovich prior to last night’s 94-73 Spurs win. “It’s not appropriate.

“The world champions, I believe, are the Spanish team right now. USA is the Olympic champion. The Lakers are the NBA champion. It doesn’t make sense for an NBA team to call themselves world champions. I don’t remember anybody playing anybody outside our borders to get that tag. Isn’t that true? I keep waiting for somebody to tell me I’ve missed something.”

When someone mentioned Toronto, Pop said, “There’s a team in Canada. That’s true. The world’s bigger than North America. I know sometimes we as arrogant Americans don’t respond to the rest of the world, but it’s true. There’s a big world out there.”

The other team that has a lot of banners — the team Popovich and his boys are trying to avoid in the playoffs this year — do the same thing. The Lakers banners up in Staples Center all say World Champion on them.

But not the Spurs. Their four all say NBA Champion, and even have a picture of the Larry O’Brien trophy. The good news for Popovich is he plays most of his games there, so he doesn’t have to stare at the horrible semantic errors in Boston and LA very often.

  1. Dinakar - Mar 29, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Wow, this is absolutely great, Mr.Popovich said some thing that rest of the world felt all along! Yes – I was all along surprised why each of the league champions every year call themselves as the world champions and/or best team in the world. It’s same with NHL, MLB and NBA, AFL and the list goes on. I always wondered how could a country take the entire world for grated so easily and call themselves as them as the best in the world so often. I know there may not be many countries that might be playing some of these sports like North America does but it is absolutely right to call them North America champions and nothing more than that.

  2. Mo - Mar 29, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    I don’t remember anybody playing anybody outside our borders to get that tag. Isn’t that true? I keep waiting for somebody to tell me I’ve missed something.
    Somebody needs to send Pop a map. Last time I checked the Toronto Raptors and the old Vancouver Grizzlies were outside of our borders. Though, North American Champions would probably be more accurate.

  3. Justin - Mar 29, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    In the immortal words of Rob Dibble any team from the USA is the “World Champion of the World!”
    Hey, is it really the World Series when only MLB teams play in it? Is the Super Bowl really all that super?
    Get over it. Anything from the USA is the best of the best…except our beer and cars.

  4. CHARLES BARKLEY - Mar 29, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    Pop is reading this too literally. World doesn’t have to necessarily mean the entire world around the earth.
    The term “World” can be used to describe the entirety of something but not necessarily the entire globe.
    “A specified part of the earth: ie the Western World.”
    “A part of the earth and its inhabitants as known at a given period in history: ie the ancient world.”
    “A realm or domain: the animal world; the world of imagination…
    “A sphere of human activity or interest: the world of sports.
    “A class or group of people with common characteristics or pursuits: the scientific world.”
    In the “World of the NBA” the Lakers are champions. Got it now Pop? Sheesh.

  5. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Apr 3, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    Pops makes sense.
    And I’m even a Laker fan at that.

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