Karl started Pope most of that season, not because he was a great player, as Pope puts it. “Karl was so arrogant, he loved the idea of looking at the opposing bench, at Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers, and staring at them in a way that said: ‘I’m so good, I’m going to throw this dude out there and we’ll still beat you’. It was awesome. It was so fun.”
Pope is still hip deep in basketball, a member of Dave Rose’s staff where he works with the big men. He’s measuring how fun being a coach can be, but knows it can’t compare with his experience as a player.
He says his experience at BYU is more than he thought it would be.
“It’s different because the grind is different and you don’t sleep much because you look these kids in the eyes, get inside their heads and figure out how to get these guys to where they want to go.
“I love it and it’s fun. It’s a good question, though, what is the most fun I’ve had.”
Pope remembers being at Nike camps and hearing Dick Vitale, in only the way he can do it, speaking about there being two kinds of players, the ones the game uses and players who steal from the game.
Pope said, “I’ve been really blessed with this game. We haven’t given much to this game, but we’ve stolen a lot from this game. It’s been good to us.
“I love it here now. I love these guys. There is something about them. I think about it and try to figure it out. The X’s and O’s are fascinating, but I think what is really fun is trying to figure out how to get these guys to a place they can’t get by themselves.
“I had guys do that for me. I had an uncle as a high school coach, my two coaches in college and guys who I played with who helped me figure out stuff. These (college) guys are working just as hard as I did. They are chasing it just as hard as I was. They get humiliated when things go bad and they are kings of the world when things go good.”
The chase is the fun thing, said Pope.
“It is the chase that does it for you. It’s the chase that pulls you.”
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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