Pop is a brutally honest man.
“We weren’t beating the Lakers, even if we were whole,” Popovich said. “If you really wanted to be honest with yourself, you had to think that.”
Are we serious about wanting another championship? “If so,” Popovich said, “it’s time to pony up.”
“By no means are we the best team in the league,” Popovich said. “But I think we’re back in the ballgame.”
For years, the franchise had remained, in Popovich’s words, “frugal.”
“We’ve always wanted to compete, and the environment in the NBA allowed a team like us to do so,” Popovich said. “If you wanted to work at having a shot at winning the championship and still be under the tax, it could be done. But the way the talent has shifted in the league, it’s almost impossible to do that now.”
“I’d be disingenuous if I said I didn’t worry [about Manu] because he does have some miles,” Popovich said. “But I don’t think it’s a Grant Hill situation or [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas or Yao Ming thing. I don’t think it’s that kind of thing, where his foot is kind of brittle.”
“My goal,” Popovich said, “is for [Duncan] to start the season out of shape.”
Oh, and Duncan is down to 240 pounds.