San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich says he invites guests to teach his NBA stars about the dangers of social media in a bid to help them “live their lives not caring what anybody else says”.
Five-time NBA champion Popovich, 75, is responsible for guiding a group who began the season with the youngest average age of any team, at 23.5 years old.
One of their youngest players, 20-year-old Victor Wembanyama, posted a remarkable triple-double of 27 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks in a 122-99 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday.
“We bring in speakers who talk to them about the negatives of social media,” said Popovich. “They don’t have to be slaves to it; they don’t have to live every moment wondering what somebody’s saying about them, good or bad.
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“People have to know that when they go to the bathroom or eat a meal or wash their car, it shouldn’t affect their lives at all. The more we tell them, the more they live their lives not caring what anybody else says – especially people they don’t even know.”
Gregg Popovich: Victor Wembanyama is ‘confident’
Second-year forward Jeremy Sochan, who is the same age as Wembanyama, is another Spurs player to have impressed and suffered dips in form during a gruelling season.
Popovich warned that even those close to his players could provide unhelpful opinions. “Often times, it’s even your relatives,” the veteran said. “Most people in their family don’t know what the hell they’re talking about when they tell you something about basketball, unless one of their family is a coach or has played or something like that.
“The more you can depend on your team-mates and yourself to find your place in the world, the better off you are. We try to get that across to them as much as we can, and having speakers in and sharing books with them is part of the process.”
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Asked about NBA draft first pick Wembanyama’s latest performance, Popovich said: “He’s been confident all year long. It doesn’t mean he took all the best shots but he’s got no problem with confidence.
“When you have a team that’s as young as we are, it’s more about the basics. They are players who spent maybe one year in college, so they maybe didn’t learn much.
“It’s not the coaches’ fault, it’s because they’re only there for a short time. This is more of a teaching environment. When we were competing for championships, it was more game decisions.”
Spurs now have a break in action for the NBA All-Star Weekend.