ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy had the intimidating responsibility of interviewing Gregg Popovich on Wednesday, but the notoriously standoffish San Antonio Spurs coach did his best to put his former colleague at ease.
A former NBA coach in his own right, Van Gundy approached Popovich between the third and fourth quarters of the Spurs’ 112-90 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday. Normally, performing a sideline interview with Popovich can be a frightening proposition; the 64-year-old’s responses can range from terse to downright terrifying. Just ask David Aldridge.
As Van Gundy approached Popovich, it was clear that the ESPN color commentator was aware of his peril. He stammered his way through an introduction as Popovich badgered him to restate his question. Eventually, Van Gundy admitted that he was a bit on edge.
“You’re making me nervous,” he told Popovich. “I’ve never been so nervous in my life, so I asked all the sideline reporters what to do, how to approach you. They said ‘explore your feelings.’”
Van Gundy’s words must have made an impression on Popovich, who immediately reached over and embraced him with a bear hug. “I love you,” Popovich said, before walking off the court without answering a question.
In 2013, Sports Illustrated published a profile on Popovich’s habits during interviews, which can be viewed here. Van Gundy’s interview with the coaching legend can be viewed below.
[h/t Sports Illustrated]