With San Antonio struggling, Gregg Popovich knows he needs some outside help to revigorate the team and find that old Spurs magic.
Somewhere along the tumbleweedy foothills on the outskirts of San Antonio, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sequesters himself to reflect on what’s been a challenging season.
After a long road trip, Popovich (probably) sits down at an oak desk, which he (probably) built himself, in the living room of a log cabin, which he also (probably) built himself.
This was always going to be a trying year for the Spurs, as silver and black mainstays were relegated to the past tense and injuries mounted. Even for a franchise anchored in stability, this was a bit much. A quarter of the way through the season, San Antonio hovers around .500. Coach Pop knows he needs help to right the ship.
In his seclusion, he’s alone but not lonely. The solitude brings him peace. He’s accompanied only by a dust-coated bottle of red wine and the familiar embrace of mindful solace. His fireplace provides warmth and a dull background grumble of crackling kindling in the cabin’s minimalist vacuity.
From the desk drawer, he pulls out some stationery and an inkwell to pen a letter. He takes a long draw from the wine glass, exhumes a burden-releasing exhale and starts to write.
An hour passes. The bottle gets finished, so does the letter. It’s terse yet wistful. Bittersweet yet brusque. The prose brimming with natural thoughtfulness and a staccato flair.
Coach Pop seals the envelope and addresses it to the front office of the Levallois Metropolitans, a team in the French Pro A basketball league. It was his last known whereabouts. He adds an attention line of “Forward To Whom It May Concern.”
The letter reaches its intended recipient somehow. A pair of zaftig hands opens a crinkled, tri-folded vellum, stained tawny from soaked-up pinot noir spatters.
There’s only one man with enough bravado, suave European sophistication, wine knowledge, and experience in San Antonio’s system that the letter could be meant for…
The letter read:
I hope you’re enjoying Bordeaux, I know it’s lovely in late November.
San Antonio’s been unseasonably cold this year, or perhaps it just seems that way. Tony’s no longer with us. Manu rode off into the sunset. I’m sure you heard about the saga with Kawhi. All the kids got hurt; Lonnie Walker, Derrick White…Poor Dejounte tore his ACL.
I don’t know how much more I have left in me.
The season’s a quarter gone and we’ve fallen outside the playoff picture. Sacramento just passed us. Les Rois! Sacré bleu, Boris!
The ball movement and extra passes aren’t as prevalent as they used to be. Faded the hallmarks our success was predicated on. I need someone who can run the offense. Someone I trust. I need you, Boris.
The door is always open.
Befuddled, Diaw peers out over the rolling vineyard from the kitchen of the farmhouse where he’s enjoying retirement. He raises his glass of red in a toast and pensively stares off into the distance. “Sacré bleu indeed, Entraîneur.”