The San Antonio Spurs fell into an 0-2 hole in the Western Conference finals Tuesday night with an ugly 36-point blowout loss on the road in Oakland. After the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ripped his team for not believing they could win without Kawhi Leonard.
The immediate reaction to Popovich's explosive press conference was that the prickly coach was simply having another signature sparring match with the media, but Skip Bayless argued on Wednesday's episode of Undisputed that Popovich is unfairly getting a pass for deflecting blame onto his team.
Gregg Popovich: 'We need to get slapped'
“I don’t think they believed, and you have to believe. I don’t think, as a group, they really did.
Which means probably a little bit feeling sorry for themselves, you know, psychologically, subconsciously, whatever psychobabble word you want to use. That’s the way I process it.
I don’t think they started the game with the belief … I don’t think it was one guy who didn’t believe and he infected everybody else or anything like that. I think, as a group, they just let themselves down. We talked about it during the game, halftime, after the game - because I think the truth always quote unquote ‘sets you free.’
You can’t sugar coat it or say ‘if we would have just made a couple shots, we’d have been right there.’ That’s pretty lame. So call it like it is. We didn’t come to play, we felt sorry for ourselves. We need to get slapped and come back and play Game 3 and see who we are.”
Gregg Popovich is getting yet another pass from fans and the media
“You know I’m a longtime Spurs fan, but my man Gregg Popovich is once again getting a pass from the media he does not deserve.
Because we all know [the narrative]. ‘Greg Popovich gives the best postgame media sessions in all of sports.’ I heard that all last night, I read that all this morning -- and he is allowed to deflect blame onto his team when, in fact, Gregg Popovich deserves the majority of the blame for what happened last night.
This guy gets more passes -- I’ve said it again and again -- but he gets more passes than Golden State successfully delivered against my Spurs last night. He’s getting a pass for a game that was an eye-sore, for me.”
Troy TaorminaTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Popovich set the table for this kind of a performance after the Game 1 loss
“It was disgusting. It was pathetic. It was basically unwatchable … and it all started with Gregg Popovich. And I’m not second-guessing this, because I first-guessed it yesterday.
I said that his rant on Monday, his Zaza rant, came across to me as more of an out-of-place concession speech. That’s what it felt like, like he was just giving up. Waving the white flag.
He was saying, basically, ‘you know, we had agreat year, and we had peaked … and then that happened. [Zaza] ended it for us.’
I told you that if you wanted to spill raw emotion and raw anger right after the game, I would be good with that.
But the day after is all about refocusing and reuniting and recommitting to play the kind of defense that got you this far.”
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Spurs simply quit
“Instead, as Popovich said, ‘we were just feeling sorry for ourselves.'
Well who opened that door? He did, the day before! And they ran right through that door -- or, I should say they stumbled right through that door.
They effectively surrendered. He surrendered on Monday and they surrendered last night. If you want the word, I’ll go to the Q-word. They quit.”
Kelley L CoxKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
LaMarcus Aldridge was atrocious when San Antonio needed him to step up
“It was over from the tip last night.
… I appreciate the fact he called out LaMarcus Aldridge. He said ‘he’s timid, he wouldn’t even shoot the ball last night.’
I have been calling out LaMarcus Aldridge since a year ago, and it does not work. … Last night he took two shots in the first quarter and missed them both. He made on basket in the first half that didn’t come until 4:55 remained.”
This was a disgraceful night for the Spurs
“Bottom line, as a Spurs fan , I was embarrassed and ashamed by what I had to watch, and I watched to the bitter end.I was even more ashamed and embarrassed about my head coach.”
It's hard to blame Popovich for being completely outmatched
“What was that they put on display? But let’s be fair to San Antonio. You and I both know, I don’t care the team, once you get to the finals in each conference … I don’t believe there’s a team that can win without their best player.
If you take Steph or KD away from [Golden State] and Kawhi’s healthy, they’re not beating San Antonio. Just like if you take LeBron away from the Cavs against the Celtics, they’re not beating the Celtics.
In a seven-game series, the best team will win. And if you remove the best player from that team, they’re not winning.
… Then you said ‘Pop deserves the blame.’ For what? He’s got to throw somebody out there!”