SAN ANTONIO — Gregg Popovich was asked about Quin Snyder’s NBA coach of the year candidacy before Friday’s Jazz-Spurs game, which happened to be quite the coincidence, according to the Spurs coach.
"I was just talking to him, and he was telling me what a good job he’s done all year," Popovich said of Snyder. "So I said, 'OK, I agree.'"
If it wasn’t clear, Pop was being facetious. Snyder would have bragged about his entire Jazz tenure, not just this season. (For the record, that was also facetious. Snyder is about the last person who’d boast about his own achievements.)
On a serious note, though, Popovich was asked if he believes his Jazz counterpart — and former Spurs employee — is worthy of the annual coaching award.
“Hell yes,” Popovich blurted out before Friday night’s Jazz-Spurs game.
Snyder, who used to be the head coach of the Spurs’ D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros, is among the leading candidates for the COY award with Toronto’s Dwane Casey, Portland’s Terry Stotts, Boston’s Brad Stevens, Indiana’s Nate McMillan and Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, among others.
Another one of Popovich’s prodigies, Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer, feels the same as his old boss.
"Yeah, I hadn’t thought about that," Bud said when asked about Snyder being coach of the year this week, "but there’s no doubt."
CREATIVITY COUNTS: Before the Spurs' 124-120 overtime win, Popovich expounded on why he likes Snyder so much as a coach.
"He’s been remarkable. He’s such a creative coach. He knows his stuff," said Popovich, who mentored Snyder from 2007-10. "He’s competitive as hell, but who’s not competitive? That doesn’t make him very unique but his creativity does, his attention to detail, his persistence in trying to develop the culture he wanted.”
Popovich gave another former Spurs employee — Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey, formerly the assistant of San Antonio general manager RC Buford — some love as well.
"(Snyder) and Dennis together have been a great team to put that culture together culture together," Popovich said. "They’ve always had great culture (in Utah), but when you get a new GM and a new coach, you've got to get it straight. And over the past few years, they've done that so they're reaping the rewards and the benefits of what they’ve sown over the years.
"It's great to see. I love it."
DEFINE FUN: Moments after his team lost this heartbreaker, Snyder was asked if going against Popovich is "fun."
"I would never say that. You enjoy competing, but that's not the part of it that's fun," he said. "He's been as influential in my life as much as anyone, so it's an honor to be out there. I think our team conducted themselves like we belonged. The competition is fun, but nothing fun about the match-up."
KNEE TWEAKED: Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who missed 15 games earlier this season with a sprained left knee, appeared to favor his knee during this game. He admitted it was tweaked in the loss.
"They were grabbing me all night. They were pushing me all night," Gobert said. "At one point, someone hit my knee, so I was feeling it a little bit, but I’ll be fine."