Greatest Living Coach and World's Best Human Gregg Popovich held a symposium with Harvard professor and civil rights activist Dr. Cornel West at San Antonio's Carver Cultural Community Center late last month. For over two hours, the two men took questions from students at Sam Houston High School on the city's low-income east side, and at one point a question was asked of Popovich if the Spurs were going to add to their championship collection this season.
Here was his response, via The Nation:
“Win the championship? I don’t know, but it’s not a priority in my life. I’d be much happier if I knew that my players were going to make society better, who had good families and who took care of the people around them. I’d get more satisfaction out of that than a title. I would love to win another championship, and we’ll work our butts off to try and do that. But we have to want more than success in our jobs. That’s why we’re here. We’re here so you’ll understand that you can overcome obstacles by being prepared and if you educate the hell out of yourself. If you become respectful, disciplined people in this world, you can fight anything. If you join with each other and you believe in yourself and each other, that’s what matters. That’s what we want to relay to you all: that we believe that about you or we wouldn’t be here.”
The answer is fully Pop. Winning is great, winning is important, but it's not the most important thing in life. Just last summer, one of the Spurs' bench players was up for free agency and wanted to return to San Antonio, but Pop all but forced him to sign in Detroit because the Pistons could offer him significantly more money than the Spurs could. "I said, 'Get your ass out of here. Go. You've got to do it,'" Popovich said. The coach of the Spurs actively made his team (slightly) worse because that player's well-being was more important.
It's that outlook that's helped Pop with 1,100 games and five championships. Because the wins and the rings aren't the most important thing in Pop's program -- the people are.