San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest basketball minds the NBA has ever seen. He is the longest-tenured head coach in professional sports, and during his 19 years with the Spurs, he has led them to five NBA championships.
Popovich is a pioneer in the league’s gradual shift to a style of play marked by more ball and player movement. He is also known for restricting his players’ minutes, resting them at regular intervals throughout the season to help them stay fresh.
But he doesn’t restrict forward Boris Diaw’s time on the floor. Diaw, who weighs 250 pounds, recently said that Popovich leaves him in games for extra minutes to help him lose weight. It’s been reported that Diaw has a clause in his contract that pays him an incentive if he weighs 254 pounds or less, so Pop’s tactic helps Diaw’s bottom line as much as his waistline.
“Sometimes we’re up 30, and he’s like, ‘I’m just going to leave you on the court so you can lose some weight,'” Diaw told Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp.
In this year’s NBA Playoffs so far, Diaw is averaging 5.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting and dishing out 3.0 assists in 18.2 minutes per game. If he continues his solid play, Pop may have to leave him in even longer, not only to help him burn fat, but also to help the Spurs keep the ball moving and advance to the next round.