We finally have someone with enough balls to stand up to the prickly Gregg Popovich. After years of watching Popovich bully media members from afar, former NBA player Kendrick Perkins has seen enough. Perkins unloaded on Popovich, questioning his coaching, asking for accountability and calling for Pop to “humble himself.”
Team USA needs to check themselves on the defensive end, have some pride and humility… and that includes coach Popovich — the arrogance he showed in that press conference is how they looked on D!
We lean on Kyrie about how he handles the media, well same damn thing for Pop… pic.twitter.com/a7WRH42lGC
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 13, 2021
Appearing on ESPN’s First Take, Perkins called Popovich out for failing to have Team USA prepared in consecutive exhibition losses: “We have to address the elephant in the room, and it’s Gregg Popovich. In these last two games (losses to Australia and Nigeria), he has been getting out-coached. He has done a poor job of having these guys prepared for these games on the defensive side of things.”
He was just getting started. Pop’s lack of respect for the media rubbed Perk the wrong way, and he wasn’t shy about expressing his displeasure, even questioning what Popovich has accomplished of late: “To take it to another level, I just don’t understand…and I’m not going at Gregg Popovich as a person. I’m talking about as a basketball coach and (the responsibilities associated with) being a basketball coach. Just like we hold players accountable with the way they address the media, how sensitive the players are. That interview that he did last night, and the disrespect he showed towards (the reporter) last night was flat out ridiculous. The (reporter) was doing his job.
“Greg Popovich…he should’ve been mad at himself. He should’ve went and screamed at himself,” continued Perkins. “He talked to the (reporter) like he was a child. When was the last time Gregg Popovich done something? Kawhi Leonard left (San Antonio) and showed the world that ‘I don’t need Pop. I can go win a ring on my own.'”
It gets better. Perk appeared ready to serve Popovich some humble pie, via First Take: “But besides all of that, listen. Gregg Popovich has to humble himself. We watch all-time great coaches like John Thompson be one of the class act guys when it comes to the media. We watched Red Auerbach be a class act guy when it comes to the media. Y’all take light to Gregg Popovich and those little comments he makes to the media, saying: ‘Oh that’s just Pop.’ I take it as a sign of disrespect. Just like we hold players accountable and say that they shouldn’t be sensitive, it’s their job to do the media. It’s also (a) head coach’s job to make sure they meet the requirements to do the media.”
If Perkins is still holding a mic, he can go ahead and drop it now.