Gregg Popovich’s entire tenure with Team USA has been a failure


A 9-5 record? Really?

A 9-5 document? Actually?
Picture: Getty Pictures

Over the past 17 years, each time the USA males’s basketball nationwide group has been horrible, Gregg Popovich has been on the sidelines. And that’s not an opinion, both. It’s a truth.

After dropping 90-87 to Nigeria on Saturday, Staff USA acquired embarrassed by Australia, 91-83, on Monday night time. Two straight losses. Coming into the weekend, Staff USA had a document of 54-2 in exhibition video games over the previous 29 years since we began letting the professionals play in 1992. That document now stands at 54-4, and Popovich has three of these losses. After Monday night time, his document as head coach is 9-5.

In case you forgot, within the 2004 Olympics, Staff USA took dwelling a disappointing bronze with a roster that included names like Iverson, Duncan, Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Stoudemire, and Marbury. Now, we may spend all day speaking about if that roster truly meshed, however then we’d need to spend much more time speaking about how a lot the expertise drop-off was between the U.S. and the remainder of the world 17 years in the past, in comparison with how shut it’s now. That bronze medal will all the time be a stain on USA Basketball, and it’s one which Larry Brown has to eternally put on as the pinnacle coach of that group.

And guess who was proper there as an assistant coach again in 2004? Larry Brown’s BFF – Gregg Popovich.

In case you had a front-row seat to the worst period in USA Basketball historical past, shouldn’t you recognize what to do, as a substitute of repeating the identical errors?

The factor that made Brown dangerous throughout his tenure is similar factor that’s ailing Popovich, which is their lack of management. When Brown was main the Sixers and Pistons to the NBA Finals, he had veteran groups that purchased right into a system of his personal. The identical might be mentioned for what Popovich has finished in San Antonio by profitable 5 championships by enjoying “Spurs basketball.” Staff USA doesn’t work like that. There aren’t any “position gamers,” only a bevy of expertise that it’s a must to mould and regulate to in a brief interval with expectations of dominance. There isn’t time to implement “your system,” as a result of it’s a must to regulate to them.

And that adjustment has but to happen, which was additionally obvious two years in the past. Earlier than Staff USA misplaced to Australia in an exhibition recreation – snapping a 78-game profitable streak – main as much as the 2019 FIBA World Cup the place they fell to Serbia and France, we already had clues that Popovich was in over his head. Earlier than the group left the nation, Staff USA misplaced 36-17 in a scrimmage to a gaggle of G-League and abroad gamers. There have been even studies that the group had already overwhelmed Staff USA earlier within the day.

With back-to-back losses, horrible offensive execution, dangerous protection – outdoors of Draymond Inexperienced – the dearth of a pure level guard, and at the moment lacking the likes of Devin Booker, Jrue Vacation, and Khris Middleton, the strain is mounting on Popovich regardless of all of the built-in excuses at his disposal. However, on condition that his roster at the moment consists of Kevin Durant, Dame Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal and Bam Adebayo, no one is attempting to listen to it.

And Popovich, as you in all probability guessed, isn’t doing effectively with the criticism. After Monday night time’s recreation, he acquired right into a back-and-forth with Joe Vardon of The Athletic when Popovich took challenge with the concept Staff USA has a historical past of “blowing groups out.”

Effectively, in keeping with the numbers, that’s in truth what USA Basketball has finished through the years. The margin of victory was 22.5 within the 2016 Olympics, 33.0 within the 2014 World Cup, 32.1 within the 2012 Olympics, and so forth. Since 1992, the 2 lowest win margins in USA Basketball have come when Popovich was on the teaching workers, because the 2004 Olympic group solely received by 4.6 factors per recreation and his 2019 FIBA World Cup group received by 13.3 factors per matchup.

Nonetheless, the factor that’s making this even worse for Popovich is that he’s following Coach Ok, a person who was 75-1 in his 10-year tenure teaching the group, whereas Popovich already has 5 losses in 14 video games.

And his one loss nonetheless haunts Coach Ok 15 years later.

“The worst day of my life in teaching. The worst day. I needed to finish it,” he mentioned final month concerning the 2006 loss to Greece.

Now, let’s examine that to what Popovich mentioned after his first loss this week.

“I feel with 4 days of observe, there have been lots of issues I favored on the market, however in a method, I’m type of glad it occurred,” mentioned Popovich. “That loss means nothing if we don’t be taught from it. However it may very well be an important factor on this event for us, to be taught classes from this and see what we did to maneuver on, as a result of it’s an important group of men, excessive character, and we’ll determine it out.”

If these weren’t simply “exhibition video games” and this was the Olympics, then Popovich wouldn’t be “glad” these losses occurred, as Staff USA’s ambitions for one more gold medal would already be over after beginning 0-2. On Tuesday night time, they’ll take the ground in opposition to Argentina on the lookout for their first win as a group. It’s now or nothing, as all eyes shall be on Popovich to see how his group responds. However win or lose, gold or bronze, in only a few weeks it’s turn out to be obvious that the way forward for USA Basketball has extra questions than solutions going ahead. Gregg Popovich ought to in all probability give Coach Ok a name and ask for some recommendation as a result of Mike Krzyzewski isn’t strolling via that door to save lots of us. 


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