"Sometimes in timeouts I'll say, 'I've got nothing for you. What do you want me to do? We just turned it over six times. Everybody's holding the ball. What else do you want me to do here? Figure it out,' " Popovich said, according to the San Antonio Express-News, not long before the Spurs used 14 3-pointers and a season-high 39 assists to dispatch the Cavs. "And I'll get up and walk away. Because it's true. There's nothing else I can do for them. I can give them some bulls---, and act like I'm a coach or something, but it's on them."
"I think competitive character people don't want to be manipulated constantly to do what one individual wants them to do," Popovich said, according to the Express-News. "It's a great feeling when players get together and do things as a group. Whatever can be done to empower those people."Because I'm lazy and probably a racist (by the modern definition), I enjoy (pre?) judging people on as little effort and information as possible. And if I were interviewing a coach, of whom I knew nothing, I'd hire him instantly if he said and believed Popovich's quote.
The ideas embedded in that quote are simple, true, powerful, and yet rarely applied. Why? Because group empowerment implies leader dis-empowerment. And because, since leaders overestimate their influence relative to chance, they always feel the urge to do something.
Of course, I'm cheating, this isn't a blind interview, and I know who Gregg Popovich is. His teams won 68% of their games over a near two decade stretch, often on the backs of unathletic castoffs.
Phil Jackson's the only modern coach with similar objective success. But I've always considered Phil more lucky than good. Partly that's because Phil had Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe. "Phil had better players..." is the ground I usually argue on.
But my belief was based on more than that. The Popovich quote brought to the surface my unconscious intuition: Good leaders are, above all else, rational, and rationality requires, above all else, a balanced ego. (Smarts too; but that's not a controversial claim.)
Jackson is a narcissist. If you can't see that, then you're bad at judging people. The constant public Zen non-sense, the lower lip pubes, the multiple divorces, the hipster glasses, the pointless public trashing of players, attention-whoring, feuds, etc.
|Zen Master: Attention whoring is the WAY to Nirvana|
There's statistical evidence for my claim that Popovich relies less on talent than Jackson. For example, though their career winning percentages are identical, Popovich's are much lower variation. Jackson's had more great years, but also more ~.500 seasons, whereas Pop coached teams have won more than 60% of their games every year since 1997. Also, the +/- of Pop's bench is better than Jackson's, etc. But I'm getting sidetracked.
You can infer a lot about someone from very little evidence. I haven't proved that. But I think it's true.
(p.s. Ultimately, what my Jackson vs. Pop claim boils down to, is if you dropped Popovich onto some random team in the NBA, he'd have them contending within 1-2 years, and that's not true for Jackson.)
(p.p.s It's no coincidence that the coach with the NFL's best sustained record of success, Bill Belichick, is a virtual Popovich clone in terms of personality and background; blunt, high IQ guys from no non-sense military families.)
(p.p.p.s Many hugely successful businessmen, Buffett and Henry Singleton, for example, believed in hiring well and then decentralizing power/authority/accountability. Maybe analogous to Pop. And that means that Pop's talent isn't necessarily bad, but rather different; he values particular player attributes differently than other coaches.)