BOSTON – Moments after the final horn sounded and the Boston Celtics’ 95-87 loss to San Antonio was official, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and his legendary counterpart Gregg Popovich shook hands.
But this wasn’t your typical embrace between coaches following the game.
Popovich acknowledged as much during his post-game interview with the media.
“I really respect what he does,” Popovich said of Stevens.
Popovich has won five NBA titles in San Antonio, and is widely considered the best coach in the league.
Stevens is in his third season with his next winning season in the NBA being his first winning season in the NBA.
And while their demeanors are vastly different, there is a connection between the two Indiana-born coaches that’s unmistakable.
“I’ll still watch his Butler tape, trying to learn some stuff he did there, to be honest with you,” Popovich said. “I really respect the hell out of him.”
And when you hear Stevens talk about Popovich, it’s clear that the feeling is mutual.
“Pop, the way that he has treated us from a coaching fraternity, has been fantastic,” Stevens said. “You just admire teams that play the right way.”
Most agree that is indeed a characteristic of the Spurs. But if you listen to Popovich, the same could be said for the Celtics under Stevens.
“He’s a really fine young coach - great demeanor,” Popovich said. “His team executes really well, and they’re just going to keep getting better. So, I enjoy him.”