Andrew Gaze recognises the irony. Gregg Popovich, 23-year coach of the San Antonio Spurs and one of the biggest advocates and proponents for international talent in the NBA, is at the helm of Team USA heading into the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
For more than two decades, Popovich, 70, has been the trailblazer for bringing international talent into his NBA system which has enjoyed incredible success over generations, and still holds up today.
More than 45 international players have come through the Spurs under Popovich, from headline acts Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, all the way through to valuable role players – like Australian basketball hall-of-famer Gaze was during his stint under the great coach in their championship year in 1999.nfl nike jerseys for cheap
Speaking with ESPN ahead of the FIBA World Cup and the Boomers’s two exhibition matches against Team USA in Melbourne, Gaze says one of Popovich’s greatest traits is that he is — and has been for some time — one of the world’s best equalisers when it comes to the talent he has at his disposal.
One of the first things Gaze noticed upon walking into Popovich’s system was how attitudes were left at the door and the system came first. Players who had been coddled and scouted for stardom from high school were treated exactly the same as the battler who had been plying his trade in Europe or Australia.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap
“I think one of the things he’s renowned for saying is that he likes to recruit players who have ‘gotten over themselves’,” Gaze tells ESPN. “They’re not carrying that baggage about privilege and entitlement. It’s about buying into a culture and system, and probably in his terms, being coachable. He doesn’t tolerate fools and he doesn’t tolerate people that won’t buy into the system.
“Basketball has a different status in different countries and there’s a different response in general for elite players and the way they’re treated in many parts of the world compared to a superstar high school kid coming through the American system.”
And that, Gaze says, is why Popovich has had such great success in bringing elite international talent into the Spurs – less entitlement, less attitude and, yet still, bucketloads of talent.
“The fact that Popovich held people like David (Robinson) and Tim (Duncan) accountable, the others accepted [Popovich’s no bulldust attitude],” Gaze says.
“Ultimately he builds a standard of behaviour upon which he holds people accountable. And because he does that, guys buy in, but how he treats people and holds people accountable is very similar from top to bottom.”