Gregg Popovich is as passionate about art as he is about basketball
In addition to his obvious coaching career, Gregg Popovich is, as you know, a big fan of wine. Indeed, the Spurs head coach, who has been paraded under the tutelage of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, is very attached to his other passion: tasting wine made from grapes. The orange balloon is his profession, the balloon bottle is his pleasure.
How do you start an article about Gregg Popovich’s love of wine without posting a very tempting comparison between the Spurs and booze? Over 20 years, his Spurs have matured into a vintage that will be remembered for a very long time. The type of bottle that can be opened in any conditions and in any year remains a guarantee of a unique taste.
Le Pop also knows something about this: it has a cellar of about 3,000 bottles. A sacred thing that affirms without a doubt that man is a knower. Many players in the NBA are directly or indirectly associated with the pleasure of tasting and collecting fine wine bottles. An example? Stephen Curry, who owns property with his wife Ayesha in California’s famed Napa Valley, known for its ideal Mediterranean climate and prestigious wine production, and even CJ McCollum, a fan of good country bowling and a producer himself. However, when it comes to passion for oenology, the Big League boss is Gregg Popovich and no one else.
A nice little anecdote to support this point? Many prestigious league players who wanted to learn about wine asked Pop to lunch over a good bottle. This is how Paul Pierce recalls the meal between Kevin Durant and the head coach of the Spurs in Las Vegas.
“There was a moment in Vegas when Kevin Durant went to Pop to ask him to teach him about wine. Pop took the opportunity to eat him, taste a bottle and talk to him about different wines” – Paul Pierce.
Hardly raised in the army of the US Air Force, nothing prevented the future coach of the Spurs from finding a passion for the favorite drink of Dionysus. The technician from San Antonio learned to appreciate wine after graduation as he was transferred to one of the most prestigious vineyards in North America in central California.
“I was first sent to California in the early 70s when I graduated from the Air Force Academy. It was a time when you could go to the vineyards without giving anything, you were only with two people. The vintners showed you everything and gave you a taste straight from the barrels. They would come down with you, bring you food and spend the whole afternoon there. It was just great. That’s when I fell in love with wine.” – Gregg Popovich.
Gregg is also known for not counting when it comes to having a good time around a good bottle. There are many anecdotes from players and coaches describing a man who shows up at a restaurant hours before an agreed meal time. Thought? Discuss the dishes and bottles offered on the menu with the staff and managers of the establishment. Yes, it is a passion on that level.
If you agree to Pop at the end of the evening? ESPN’s Baxter Holmes explains that the coach was able to provide four-figure tips as well as tickets to the restaurant staff to Spurs games. When you love, you don’t count, huh…and Don Nelson, the great NBA coach, demonstrates this with numbers.
“He spends more on food and wine than I do on my salary” – Don Nelson
A love that would even lead one to join forces with winemaking experts to move to the other side of the business: beverage production. For several years, he has owned shares in several Oregon vineyards managed by the company Winemaking from A to Z, specializing in Pinot Noir. The culmination of passion for the coach.
“I go there whenever I get a chance. I work with fantastic winemakers and the managers are wonderful people. I have known them for a long time. They work great together so it’s great to be a part of it. It’s a different thing than basketball” – Gregg Popovich.
Finally, one as complex as wine. Emphasizing his relationship with the players, Popovich often invited his soldiers to the restaurant and talked over a nice dinner. Passion in the service of work, what could be better than that in serious life?
Gregg Popovich, who was also under the command of several Frenchmen such as Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, was able to share his love of wine with the natives of the country that produces the best grapes in the world. Boris Diaw explained that he often had the opportunity to taste French wines with his coach. Also a fan of oenology, a former player of Éperons, he probably did not hesitate to enjoy evenings of color and color analysis.
As late as possible – a life he spends in satisfying his great pleasure, which can end after tasting as many different references as possible. Although he is sure that he is passing on his passion.
“My goal is to drink as much as possible before I die so my kids don’t drink 7up and make sangria out of wine.” That’s my goal” – Gregg Popovich.
Winner in basketball, winner in wine. Gregg Popovich doesn’t have one without the other. An iron discipline that finds its moments of respite in the cultivation of authoritative passion. Look no further, we’ve pretty much defined what has made Spurs successful for 20 years.
Sources: ESPN, Yahoo Sports, Business Insider, New Obs