Yesterday I wrote a post about an interview with Tony Parker. In the interview TP talked about his relationship with Coach Pop and how it’s progressed over the years. Parker said he’s come a long way to get to where he is with his coach today. At the beginning it was no picnic.
Coach Popovich says when the San Antonio Spurs first worked out Parker they didn’t like him. He described Tony as “unfocused,” “soft” and “too cool.” Pop even admits being a jerk at first and sending him away after his first workout. Even when he asked for a second chance, they set him up to fail, but Parker passed with flying colors and earned the respect of his future coach.
"He wanted a second chance, so we brought in some free agents -- frankly, with the idea to beat him up, and we did a workout,” said Pop. “The whole workout was on the post. We never put him out on the floor. We did post defense and post offense, and he impressed the hell out of me. He was focused, tough. That was my first indication that he could be coached -- he can learn, he understands, he can take criticism, he's willing to improve and listen. So we drafted him."
Even though Parker had impressed his coach, Pop still wasn’t going to take it easy on him.
"'I'm going to just jump on top of you,'" Popovich said he told Parker when he made him a starter early in his rookie season. "'I'm going to get you for every single mistake. We don't have time for you to ease into this.' So he went right in the frying pan."'
It’s that discipline and enthusiasm that’s made Parker into the player he is today. Who knows what TP would be if he hadn’t found the right coach. We’ve all seen how Parker can be a little flashy at times. If he didn’t have Coach Pop to keep him in check, he could have ended up out of control.
It must have been fate that Parker and Popovich ended up together, and Spurs fans are glad they did.
Great post, Kyle. Pop has always been especially hard on his younger point guards. Some (Beno) couldn't take it, but I'm glad Parker saw it as an opportunity to help him grow as a player. He's come a long way.
That's why the players and Spurs fans love Pop. He knows the potential of his players and accepts nothing less than their best.