I’ve had to deal with some editors in my life that twist the guts outta a piece like a particularly excruciating rope burn, but for this piece at Dime Mag, Sean saved me.
1. SIDELINE INTERVIEWS
Both men are a thorn in the side of Ric Bucher, Craig Sager, Lisa Salters, or anyone unlucky enough to thrust a microphone in their face in the middle of the action. The NBA’s policy of interviewing coaches on the sidelines before the start of the second and fourth quarters always seemed peculiar, especially when you consider the prickly nature of coaching itself, but these two made an art out of showing their contempt for the practice and their thinly-veiled – or outright overt – antipathy to the questions has reached an apogee as the NBA has stuck to the rule.
Fans catching a San Antonio game on television are always treated to a curt reply from Popovich that leaves the interviewer busy scrambling to come up with another question while a fan uselessly tries to discern whether Popovich told us anything. Answering the question, for Popovich, is as simple as “We need to play better defense,” it’s pithiness a tacit acknowledgement to the interviewer that he’d rather be anywhere but answering these questions.
Jackson, in particular, takes special delight in antagonizing the men and women assigned to ask the trivial questions he used to hear as the Lakers’ head coach. Supercilious answers were the norm when Jackson was with the purple and gold, but it’s Jackson’s practiced Zen that can make him appear aloof and judgmental of even the simplest of questions. Popovich might give an exasperated sigh before intoning some pithy statement about working harder, but the Zen Master puts on a devious smile, and just oozes irony with every answer. It’s almost as if he’s impishly evoking Camus’ absurdist existentialism to show us all how ridiculous the sideline interview really is. It’s a wonder the sideline reporters even bother with either of these gentleman when they’re coaching their teams.
Jackson’s just making fun of the reporters and sideline reports. They’re both a delight for the hoops junkies that realize how informationally devoid the whole idea of sideline reporting is, but Jackson took the ordeal and turned it on it’s head, so it’s mildly interesting, if only to see how uncomfortable Jackson makes his inquisitor.
Edge: Jackson, but only slightly.