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Before Game 1, Gregg Popovich helped a reporter with a crossword puzzle

Apr 22, 2013, 9:23 AM EST

Gregg Popovich AP

Gregg Popovich doesn’t care about the public perception of him as a curmudgeon. He honestly doesn’t care what people think. Period.

But he’s not a curmudgeon. He can by curmudgeonly, but there is a lot more to him than that one side. A really good profile of Pops by Joe Posnanski at NBC got at that. If you pique his interest on something, Popovich can be helpful and enlightening.

Here is an example of that side of him, based on what happened before Game 1 of the Spurs series against the Lakers Sunday (a game the Spurs went on to win). From the Spurs blog at the Express-News.

He used the word “discombobulated,” and the following exchange actually took place. A reporter told him, coincidentally, that “discombobulated” had come up in a recent New York Times crossword puzzle. Did Popovich happen to know a word, six letters and ending in “y,” that means the same?

For those who only see the terse side of his interaction with the media: Popovich wrote a note before the game and sent it to the reporter with two suggestions.

Punchy and groggy.

I have no idea if those were correct (in a quick search online I couldn’t find the puzzle in doubt, and certainly didn’t have time to solve it if I had).

But that’s Popovich. He’s not a simple guy easy to paint into a preconceived box, he’s a rounded and complex person. Who just happens to be the best coach in the game.

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