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Popovich’s run-in with Stern over resting players could affect his chances to coach Team USA

Dec 1, 2012, 8:30 PM EST

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair, Gregg Popovich AP

The NBA is no different than the company you work for, in that political alliances go a long way in terms of who gets promoted into certain positions.

When Gregg Popovich effectively slapped the league in the face on Thursday by sending home four of his healthy starters to rest them instead of having them play in a nationally televised contest against the defending champion Heat, he may have affected his chances of inheriting the USA Basketball head coaching job expected to be vacated by Mike Krzyzewski.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Or as conspiracy theorists would surely put it: Will the most public wedge ever driven between the commissioner and the famously stubborn coach in his league emerge as a factor that hurts Pop’s chances of succeeding Mike Krzyzewski?

I so want to believe the GM who insisted to me Friday: “Absolutely, positively not. The league doesn’t get in USA Basketball’s way like it used to.”

The final call on who coaches the national team, of course, belongs to USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo. As it has since 2005.

The league, though, does get to register its input, which means Stern will have a voice until his Feb. 1, 2014 retirement. It’s thus not much of a stretch to imagine the league (re: Stern) lobbying USA Basketball to view this whole chaotic episode, no matter how far Stern overreached, as a prime example of Pop’s long-perceived reluctance to be more of a partner with the league office than they’ve historically been.

Popovich is definitely one of the best candidates for the job, a seasoned coach with a championship pedigree that can command the respect of any players, young and old, who find themselves on the USA Basketball roster.

But he isn’t the only one. Doc Rivers would be just as solid of a choice for those same reasons, so if any politics are in fact in play when the time to make the decision comes, it isn’t like the league doesn’t have additional viable options.

  1. lemfax - Dec 1, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Feb. 1, 2014?

  2. wingslax35 - Dec 1, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Doug Collins will be the coach. Book it.

  3. lakerryan - Dec 1, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    Stern is retiring. Feb 1 2014 is his last day as commish

    • manchestermiracle - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:15 PM

      I’m wondering why he would choose to quit in the middle of a season, but at least next year’s O’Brien trophy award will be the last where we have to put up with that smirking mug of his.

      • cosanostra71 - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        It will be exactly 30 years to the day when he became commissioner.

      • manchestermiracle - Dec 2, 2012 at 10:34 PM

        And here I thought he must be a Sarah Palin fan….

  4. manchestermiracle - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Stern is hanging around at least a year too long. Too bad this Napoleon-complex douchebag will likely hurt Team USA’s chances just to continue his personal vendetta against Popovich. We’ve just witnessed the breadth of Stern’s petulance and immaturity, so there isn’t much holding him back from continuing his grade-school antics no matter how it might damage the national team.

  5. BigBeachBall - Dec 2, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    The next commish will be…..? Shaq.

  6. cordae - Dec 2, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    “Popovich is definitely one of the best candidates for the job”

    He IS the best candidate for this job, There isnt an active coach in the league right now thats more credible, hell even in college. I mean as weird as it seems, coach K was the only coach of the college basketball dynasties I could see them giving that job to because he was the major reason for their success, unlike Bill Self (Kansas) Roy Williams (North Carolina) and Cal (Kentucky) already coaches the Dominican Republic. The only collegiate coach i see with SOMEWHAT of a shot at the college level is Jim Boeheim.

    SN: Feb 1, 2014 cant come fast enough smh..

    • mintberrycrunch1 - Dec 2, 2012 at 11:29 PM

      Tom Izzo would be a good college coach for the team.

  7. fanofthegame79 - Dec 2, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    I laugh at those who bash David Stern. What has the dude done wrong? He’s increased the NBA’s stature in the sports world, he’s increased the size of the NBA, just about every measurable metric known has increased with David Stern. He’s easily the best commissioner in sports today. Can’t argue for Bud Selig, the NHL guy (whoever he may be) or even Roger Goodell with his Hitler-like control over the NFL – Stern is a good ambassador for the game and he was forced to fine the Spurs or we would see a lot of teams resting players this soon into the season. We’re not even a quarter of the way through and Pop feels like he needs to rest 4 stars? Get real. Parker and Green are both young and should have had no problem playing in the Heat game the other night. Pop took it too far by resting all 4 of those players.

    • fanofthegame79 - Dec 2, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      And I take nothing away from Popovich is a great coach – the best in the league today. And he is the best candidate for the Olympic team – this was an isolated event and one that the NBA didn’t want to see repeated by other teams. League message: you can rest players when ever you want…just not all of them on the same night, especially if it’s a marquee match up for a nationally televised game (uh, because we make money on tv and if we bench our stars, the entertainment value of the game has decreased. And sports are entertainment).

  8. scalfor3 - Dec 2, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Stern to Colangelo: “Don’t hire Popovich. He didn’t respect my authoritay!!!”

  9. jedifriedchicken - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Doc Rivers as the Olympic coach? He’s a mediocre coach. Notice everyone basically considered him an average coach until he got three superstars, then he was great. Now his stars are aging out, and, at best, he’s a good coach, but not in considered one of the greats.

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