Pop wasn’t about to let Wilt’s scoring record go down on his watch

Western Conference head coach Gregg Popovich speaks at a press conference after the 2016 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.
Randy Belice/NBAE/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is old-school, and he wasn’t about to let Wilt Chamberlain’s 54-year-old All-Star Game scoring record get topped in Sunday night’s 65th All-Star Game when both teams’ defenses were parting the paint as wide as Toronto’s sky tower is high.

Chamberlain scored 42 points in the 1962 game. It’s been challenged recently — Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook had 41 points last year — and considering the absolute refusal to play any semblance of defense and the number or lethal scorers in the league, it’s a minor miracle the record is still standing.

Or Sunday night, Pop took matters into his own hands.

Some coaches might have just had fun with it and allowed George to continue his onslaught right past Chamberlain’s 42. But Popovich wasn’t about to watch Wilt’s record fall in a game played as loosey goosey as this one was. So Popovich summoned arguably the game’s best defender, Golden State forward Draymond Green off the bench to stick on George for the final few minutes.

Green afterward told reporters, via MLive.com, what his orders were upon his return to the floor:

"We don’t want any records like that broken on us, so just trying to contest the shot."

Green did his job, hounding George into a 3-point misfire with just under one minute left. It was George’s last shot of the game, and Wilt’s record survived the highest scoring All-Star Game ever.

They weren’t trying to let me break that record," George told TNT in a televised interview. "I shot the 3 when I could have got a layup. If I had known that, I would have dunked."

George said he didn’t realize he was just one point away from tying the record or else he would have gone in for what surely would have been another uncontested layup instead of heaving his 19th 3-pointer of the game.

Kudos to Pop for making sure at least a minute or two of the All-Star Game included some real-game strategy. All those dunks off passes off the backboard and a myriad of circus alley-oops and uncountable 3-pointers can be fun, but it sure can get awfully boring, too.

George’s long-range accuracy was certainly something to behold (he made 9 of 19 from beyond the arc), but until the game returns to something resembling a competitive nature, no player should be simply allowed to stroll past an all-time great.

Popovich made sure George didn’t.