Gregg Popovich once forcefully told Mike Brown he would fire him for a touching reason if he got on the Spurs’ team plane

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, and he recently tied Don Nelson for the most wins all-time by an NBA head coach.

Popovich is much more than just an amazing coach. Mike Brown, one of Popovich’s former assistants, shared a touching story about how much the 73-year-old cares about his assistants off the court.

“Another story is I was going through a separation at the time … my boys were living in Colorado with their mom, I was [in San Antonio],” Brown told ESPN’s Kendra Andrews. “I will never forget, they were out here for about a week and my sister was about to take them back because we were about to go on the road. So when I dropped them off at the airport, the [team] plane wasn’t far [away]. They [the boys] were really crying at the gate because they didn’t want to go. I was about to be late. I was torn.


“I called Pop [and said,] ‘I am going to be there, I am at the airport, my kids are having a tough time getting on the plane to go back. But just give me a few more minutes.’ And he goes, ‘Mikey, you should just stay here.’ I said: ‘No, no, no Pop.’ Because we were going to Chicago and it was my scout and I need to go. [I told Pop,] ‘The kids will be all right.’


“He said, ‘If you show up to this plane, you’re fired.’ I said, ‘Pop, come on man! Listen, I’m packed and ready. I’ll be there in [a little bit].’ He said, ‘Remember, if I see you on this plane, you’re fired.’ Click. He hangs up on me. So I stayed back with the kids for an extra three days. So literally just two stories off the top of my head of many that shows his true character.”

It’s amazing to see how much Popovich cared about the well-being of his coaches and their families while also being such a winning basketball coach.

The Spurs head coach is looking to break the all-time record this season, and he will just need San Antonio to pick up one win over its final 16 games.

Popovich became the Spurs’ head coach back in the 1996-97 season. He went just 17-47 during that season, but the legend turned things around quickly.

The Spurs went on to rattle off 22 consecutive winning seasons, and they had a stretch of 18 straight seasons with 50 or more wins. Popovich has won five NBA titles in six NBA Finals appearances, and he’s coached some of the greatest players in NBA history, including Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and David Robinson.

San Antonio’s next game will come on Friday night at home against the Utah Jazz.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.