Gregg Popovich is an NBA legend. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest coach in the history of the game thanks to his success with the San Antonio Spurs. He’s earned the right to be himself.
It’s a surprise to nobody that Popovich can be dry, prickly, ornery and sarcastic at times. It’s who he is. It’s part of his persona. But just because he can be a little bit irritable and intimidating doesn’t take away from his passion, dedication and kindheartedness.
Pop has been among the most influential and affable figures the league has ever seen. The fact he’s been around this long — he’s 74 years old — is a testament to that.
But when the New York Knicks defeated the Spurs handily last week, Popovich was understandably frustrated. And leading up to the game, he was obviously already dealing with extensive media attention with No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama making his Madison Square Garden debut.
The next day, WFAN sports radio ripped into Popovich for being a “defiant, jerky a-hole,” comparing him to Bill Belichick as one of the most undesirable figures for the media to speak to.
WFAN ripping Gregg Popovich after Knicks game adds to New York sports toxicity
WFAN has recently been in the news for unsavory reasons, so this doesn’t help their case. They’ve had the whole Giants drama with Kayvon Thibodeau and Carl Banks, a lot of negative press for a take on Zach Wilson spending time with his girlfriend and family during the bye week, and the most toxic of discussions you can possibly imagine as it pertains to the Yankees and Mets.
Roping the Knicks (even in an adjacent manner) and a future Hall of Famer into this mess makes matters worse and doesn’t help how the station has been viewed over the last month. It’s totally acceptable to have an opinion on Popovich’s responses to the media, but to be this inflammatory and seemingly disregard the reality that the Spurs coach has done this for years plays a role in invalidating the argument.
Anybody who watches the NBA semi-regularly knows Pop is famous for his dismissive in-game interviews.
To be outraged by it in 2023 and to be the only outlet to express such negativity after last week’s game just feels contrived. And, to the average fan or New York outsider, that’s what a lot of WFAN’s assertions have seemed to be as of late.
Let’s hope for better days ahead because there’s bound to be enough infuriating Knicks chatter as the season progresses. We don’t need an extra dose of it this early on.