‘I really value his judgments’: What Gregg Popovich said about Jazz coach Will Hardy

Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy appears to be like on all over the primary part of an NBA preseason basketball recreation in opposition to the San Antonio Spurs, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

Estimated learn time: 4-5 mins

SALT LAKE CITY — San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich walked into his press convention room within the bowels of Vivint Arena and used to be a little bit greatly surprised by means of the a lot of journalists looking forward to him.

It used to be, in any case, a preseason recreation between two groups, the Spurs and Jazz, who’re anticipated to be racing to the ground of the standings as soon as the actual video games start.

So with a snicker in his voice, Popovich necessarily requested (in a little bit extra colourful language), “Why are you here? No one cares.”

Ironically sufficient, although, he most likely cared greater than maximum. On the opposing bench used to be Jazz head coach Will Hardy, the person Popovich noticed develop from a tender upstart operating within the Spurs movie room to anyone who’s now the youngest head coach within the NBA these days.

It wasn’t the primary time Popovich has confronted a former assistant or participant. In reality, most of the most sensible coaches within the NBA — Steve Kerr, Monty Williams, Doc Rivers, Mike Budenholzer, Ime Udoka, even former Jazz coach Quin Snyder, amongst others — both coached by means of or coached below Popovich.

Still, the sensation of seeing an outdated scholar get their very own probability hasn’t worn off for Popvovich.

“It doesn’t get old; it’s a thrill,” Popovich said sooner than the Spurs beat the Jazz 111-104 on Tuesday in a preseason contest. “It’s probably the biggest thrill I have, to tell you the truth, to see these guys and their families move on and progress and do what they’ve done. So a big part of the satisfaction in the job, for sure.”

So what made Hardy stand out then and proceed to take action for over a decade in San Antonio?

“It may sound trite but his best qualities is that he’s smart as a whip,” Popovich said. “He’s really one sharp young man, and I knew that very quickly.”

He began within the movie room, and it wasn’t lengthy till he used to be a building coach. Soon after, he used to be at the bench along Popovich. It used to be a gentle, herbal expansion, and Hardy stored proving himself able for extra at every step.

“He can teach. He has a knack for creating respect quickly with players,” Popovich said. “I really value his judgments — not just O’s and X’s or ‘Pop, this will be a good out of bounds play,’ but his understanding how the whole thing was put together. Practice schedules and how long you practice and how much to include in practice. He has a knack for all of that sort of stuff and showed us quickly that he had what it took to be successful.”

It did not harm, Popovich said with a grin, that Hardy used to be keen to drink wine with him.

Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy has fun with some of the players as the Utah Jazz play in a scrimmage game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.
Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy has a laugh with one of the avid gamers because the Utah Jazz play in a scrimmage recreation at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Amid the entire X’s and O’s, the educational and the video games, Popovich said crucial a part of development a tradition or workforce, or anything, is being concerned about the folks concerned. That used to be some of the greatest classes Hardy realized from his 11-year run in San Antonio.

“Sometimes as coaches we can get caught up in the technical, tactical side of the game, but at the end of the day, managing the players and the staff all as human beings comes first, and he’s been an unbelievable example of that for a long time,” Hardy said.

The contributors of Popovich’s “coaching tree” who’ve discovered essentially the most good fortune have emulated what Popovich has completed with the Spurs — however have not attempted to outright reproduction it. Popovich, himself, took inspiration from what Jerry Sloan had completed with the Jazz, however that did not imply Tony Parker and Tim Duncan had been operating pick out and roll each time down the court docket

“There’s definitely things that I’ve tried to take from Pop, but I’m not Pop, and I know that and I’m not trying to be anybody but me,” Hardy said. “There’s some things from a leadership standpoint, relationship standpoint that he’s always done, unbelievably. But I have to do those with my personality. And then there’s some things that we are doing differently. That doesn’t mean that either one is right or wrong, but I really feel like for my leadership to work, it has to be authentic to me.”

That’s one thing Popovich can relate to, as smartly. His thoughts temporarily considered UCLA training legend John Wooden and his famously blank vocabulary. Wooden stubborn avid gamers out differently, with the worst being, “goodness, gracious sakes alive!” Popovich, as exhausting as he is attempted, hasn’t been in a position to get to that time.

“None of us should try to be somebody else,” Popovich said. “I curse; I wish I didn’t because it’s ignorant. I tell my players that all the time. They look at me with this quizzical look, ‘Pop you cursed.’ I say, ‘I know, I know, I know, I know.’ I tried to be Johnny Wooden, but I just can’t be him. I’m not that good — intellectually, emotionally, whatever. I can’t do it. So Will will be Will. He won’t try to me or anybody else.”

So a ways, Will being Will has labored out for him rather smartly.

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Ryan Miller has coated the Utah Jazz for KSL.com since 2018.

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