Kendrick Perkins: “I’m not going to say it’s time to panic because they [USA Basketball] have too much offensive firepower and they’re too gifted offensively. I will say this though, they have to get better on the defensive side of things. When I look at the defensive side of things watching Team USA it’s a reflection of ‘who’? And we have to address the elephant in the room and it’s GREGG POPOVICH. In these last two games he has been getting outcoached. He has done a poor job having these guys prepared for these games on the defensive side of things. I’m not going at Gregg Popovich as a person, I’m talking about as a basketball coach. Just as we hold players accountable with the way they address the media, and we talk about how sensitive players are, that interview he did last night and the disrespect he showed towards Joe Vardon was flat-out ridiculous. The man was doing his job. Gregg Popovich should have been mad at HIMSELF, he should have screamed at HIMSELF. He talked to the man like he was a child. When was the last time Gregg Popovich done something? When Tim Duncan was there? Kawhi Leonard left and showed the world that ‘I don’t need Pop, I can go win a ring on my own.’ 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 watch Red Auerbach be class-act guys when it comes to the media. Ya’ll take light to Gregg Popovich and those little comments he be making to the media saying ‘Oh, that’s just Pop!’ I take it as a sign of disrespect.”
Former NBA player and ESPN studio analyst Kendrick Perkins called out San Antonio Spurs and Team USA basketball coach Gregg Popovich for his role in a recent cringeworthily and antagonistic moment [Video Below] with a reporter following the team’s shocking loss to Australia.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic was asking Team USA guard Damian Lillard about the team’s struggles compared to the dominant Team USA teams of the past, mentioning how USA used to ‘blow all these teams’ out. Popovich took exception to the question and intercepted the exchange to trigger a really awkward exchange with Vardon.
Popovich tried to tell Vardon that Team USA doesn’t ‘blow anybody out anymore’, despite Vardon offering massive margin of defeat statistics to back up his claims. It quickly turned into Popovich repeatedly cutting off Vardon and saying ‘Can I finish? Are you going to let me finish my statement or not?’ and then later ‘So you’ll be quiet now while I talk and then I’ll listen to you.'
Check out the video above as Perkins puts the emphasis on Popovich, saying it was disrespectful to patronize a reporter for simply doing his job, saying that Pop should be mad at himself for not having his team prepared on the defensive end, and to humble himself with the media after a loss that is on him.