Stephen Jackson: Popovich taught me 'that the NBA is a profession'

REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES

Gregg Popovich's body of work as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs puts him in the upper echelon in NBA history, with five NBA championships, three Coach of the Year wins, and yearly postseason appearances since 1998 on his esteemed resume.

Stephen Jackson spent four seasons playing under Popovich, capturing the only title of his career with San Antonio in 2003.

With the Spurs set to battle the undefeated Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Sunday afternoon, Jackson was asked about his former coach and why he's so special.

"He made me understand that the NBA is a profession, it's a job. It's not a game no more," Jackson said Friday on "The Rich Eisen Show."

"So I had to come to the gym every day with the notion that I'm fit to work. This is a job. I'm coming here to get better, and make everyone around me better. It's not solely about me.

"I've been on a lot of teams in the NBA, and no team prepares like Pop. Each team gets a scouting sheet on what guys do well and what guys don't like to do, but the Spurs' scouting reports are in real detail."

One of Popovich's more noteworthy strengths is his ability to get the most out of the players in his rotation, whether it's a future Hall of Famer like Tim Duncan or late draft pick at the end of his bench like Dejounte Murray. Jackson mentioned that Popovich didn't play favorites during practices, and he'd get on players if they made mistakes regardless of their status, which is why he's so respected.

"He treats everybody the same, and it's all about the team goal," said Jackson. "Pop doesn't put anybody higher than anyone else. It's all about winning as a team."

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Stephen Jackson: Popovich taught me 'that the NBA is a profession'
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