Gregg Popovich once threatened to fire Mike Brown if he didn't stay home to spend time with his kids

NBA 2K17 - Friction Trailer

Gregg Popovich has built a reputation over the years for his acid-tongue rapport with the media and his casually-acerbic demeanor. But at least some of that is a facade. The people who know him best have incredibly warm and funny things to say about him.

In Jackie MacMullan's fantastic profile of the legendary Spurs coach over at on Monday, she retells such a story from 2002, when Mike Brown was working as an assistant in San Antonio.

SEE ALSO: Cowboys release video tour of new facility called 'The Star'

When former assistant Mike Brown separated from his wife in 2002, his two young sons moved with her to Colorado. Brown's sister brought the boys to San Antonio for a visit, but when it was time to take them back to the airport, Brown's boys dissolved into tears. Brown, who had done the advance work for the upcoming road game against Chicago, called Popovich to let him know he was running a couple of minutes late.

"You better not come," Popovich barked.

"No, it's OK, my sister is with them," Brown replied.

"If you come to this plane," Popovich growled, "you're fired." Then he hung up.

Brown stayed behind and spent two extra days with his sons. When Popovich returned from the road trip, he administered a stern lecture on priorities. The message: family first, then basketball.

That wouldn't be the last time Pop emphasized the importance of life beyond basketball. Back in 2015, he famously recoiled at the notion of spacing out the NBA schedule, insisting that he would refuse to coach the NBA Finals if they extended all the way into July, saying "Count me out. Life's too short." Of course, now that he's the new head coach of USA Basketball, he'll be doing quite a bit of coaching during the summer months for the foreseeable future.


Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Best NBA players of all time
See Gallery
Best NBA players of all time

25. Scottie Pippen

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

24. Chris Paul

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

23. Jason Kidd

 (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

22. Kevin Durant

(Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

21. Steve Nash

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

20. Karl Malone

(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

19. Kevin Garnett

(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

18. Isiah Thomas

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

17. Charles Barkley

(Photo by Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images)

16. Dirk Nowitzki

 (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

15. Moses Malone

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/NBAE/Getty Images)

14. Jerry West

(Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images)

13. Oscar Robertson

(Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images)

12. Julius Erving

(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

11. Kobe Bryant

 (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

10. Hakeem Olajuwon

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

9. Bill Russell 

(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

8. Wilt Chamberlain

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

5. Larry Bird

(Photo by Tom Berg/WireImage)

4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. LeBron James

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

2. Magic Johnson

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/ NBAE/ Getty Images)


Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.