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Gregg Popovich was asked if he might ‘mail in’ Game 4 to rest the injured Tony Parker, responded as you’d expect

Jun 13, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT

San Antonio Spurs coach Popovich speaks with player Duncan during practice for their NBA Finals basketball playoff series in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO — Not everything interesting that players and coaches say from practice can make it into a full-blown story. But sometimes, the answer to a single question is deserving of being mentioned all by itself.

Especially when Gregg Popovich is the one giving the response.

There were plenty of questions about Tony Parker‘s status for Game 4, after an MRI revealed that he suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain and was officially being listed as day-to-day.

A reporter wondered aloud to Popovich whether or not he might just “mail in” Game 4 in order to give Parker some extra rest to get right for the remainder of the series, and it went over about as well as you might have imagined.

“I’ve just got to tell you, that phrase ‘mail in Game 4 …’ Popovich began, clearly agitated by the proposition. “It confuses my whole brain. I don’t think I can think past that comment. I would like to help you, but I don’t know how to help you. You can come back to our coach’s office and hit us up. We’ll be talking about all these sorts of things. Any ideas are welcome.  I have no idea until I know how healthy he is tomorrow.”

Popovich can be famously difficult if a question isn’t posed to him in precisely the right way, and this one wasn’t that outrageous on the surface. San Antonio played at different times over the course of the season without some if its key players, and managed to win a very high percentage of those games no matter who was on the floor.

“We played all season long with minus a couple of guys in different cases for whatever amount,” Tim Duncan said on Wednesday. “I was gone for ten games, Tony was gone for a little while, Manu was gone for a little while. We made adjustments. We played without individuals. On this stage at this time, [if Parker is unable to play] it would be obviously a huge loss for us.”

So again, it wasn’t that crazy of a question to ask. But Popovich gave us yet another reminder that how you approach him with such things is as important as anything in determining the level of bite you get when receiving his response.

  1. lmoneyfresh - Jun 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    “this one wasn’t that outrageous on the surface.”

    Really?!? That’s not an outrageous question? Because throwing a Finals game (at home even) is totally within the realm of reasonable things to do for a coach. Pop should have slapped the idiot that asked that question.

    • Brett Pollakoff - Jun 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      I meant in terms of the Spurs trying to win without Parker given their success at doing so during the regular season, but yes. The phrasing made it seem like “throwing a game” as you said was what was being asked, which is beyond ridiculous.

      • apmn - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        You have been spending too much time exposed to Internet trolls if that isn’t a ridiculous question. I recommend a nice, long, offline break once the Finals are finished. We should probably all take one. :)

      • lmoneyfresh - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        I think its a fair question to ask if he would possibly rest Parker, but using the phrase “mail in” was an awful choice of words by that reporter and he deserved the response Pop gave him.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Pop is a jacka-s-s-!

  2. azarkhan - Jun 13, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    There are only 7 games in the Finals and you have to win 4 to be a champion, so I’m with Pop. The question about “mailing in Game 4” “confuses my whole brain.”

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      Ditto. My whole brain, central nervous system, and probably even one of my unborn children is confused by that question.

  3. logisticalvoices - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Brett, I understand that the question was not meant to suggest that the Spurs would throw the game, but it is still ridiculous. Just because Pop is ultra-protective of his “OLD” players during the regular season does not mean that the Spurs will just “mail in” a performance to buy Parker more time to heal. I’m curious who asked the question. Was it a beat writer or a journalist who just popped in for the Finals?

  4. therealkennypowers55 - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    I am so sick of journalists or bloggers writing sensationalist pieces with eye catching titles just to get views. How dare you.

  5. charlutes - Jun 13, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    It bothers me how much of a part of the story you think reporters are. Everyone loves Pop. It was a fair, intelligent, humorous answer. End of story.

  6. Anoesis - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    The only way Pop could have made his response better was to have finished the thought, “I would like to help you (out),” which way did you come in? These days coaches really earn their pay having to deal with doofuses like that “reporter” and Brett was being too kind giving him/her that label.

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