San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s record is unparalleled among active NBA coaches. He’s also known just as much for instilling a kind of franchise-wide ethos at the Spurs organization, to which everyone—the players in particular—subscribes. An intriguing Wall Street Journal profile this week revealed that this extends to a kind of philosophical worldview. He encourages his players to be politically active, to be curious about the world, and to round out their lives beyond the game that has so long defined it—and earned them such a great living.
Below are six of the best life lessons from Coach Pop.
On life beyond work: “If I just did basketball, I’d be bored to death. How much satisfaction can you get out of doing jump shots and teaching someone to deny in the passing lanes? OK, that’s cool, that’s my job, that’s how I earn my living, and I have a good living and I enjoy it. But I’m not a lifer. It doesn’t define me. If I win a game, I’m fine. If I lose a game, it hurts, but I’m fine real quick. It’s not that important.”
On the current election, and the trajectory of great nations: “I worry that maybe I’m being a little too pessimistic, but I’m beginning to have a harder time believing that we are not Rome. Rome didn’t fall in 20 days or 30 years. It took a couple hundred years. The question is: Are we in that process and we don’t even know it? I really am starting to think about that. It’s not just the two candidates. It’s the way the whole thing is being treated.”