Gregg Popovich Has Created a Monster and It Must Be Stopped

Louisville notched another huge win on Monday by going down to Virginia Tech and pushing the Hokies around. First-year coach Chris Mack is delivering and quickly becoming a beloved figure in the passionate Cardinals fanbase. He’s also perfected his Gregg Popovich impression and using it for those pesky halftime interviews.

ESPN’s Allison Williams had the audacity to ask Mack how Virginia Tech went on a run late in the first half. It was a decent question. Here’s how Mack, who makes $4 million/year, handled it.

Chris Mack is a man of few words at halftime

— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) February 5, 2019

Let’s be clear here. These in-game chats tend to be unproductive. And surely, most coaches do not like them. But as long as they exist, perhaps the interviewee could suck it up and be professional for up to 30 seconds. That’s really not too much to ask considering how much gaudy television rights have benefited their compensation.

The conceit of the chat being flawed is not a permission slip to be flippant and rude. That’s not how this works. The glorification of Popovich’s behavior is a major factor. Coaches lower on the rung see the way he’s rewarded and lauded for his curtness and follow suit. And as much as Popovich’s act bothers me, he’s at least earned some slack by winning championships.

What has Mack done to earn the right to be Smart Aleck Guy?

Is this cantankerous bit the end of Western Civilization? Of course not. It is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. But now, as always, I’m struck at how simple it would be to be courteous and answer a simple question about a sporting event.

Dismissing and demeaning is a bad look and, more importantly, won’t do anything to make the next halftime interview go away. Coaches are within their rights to act however they want, yet it’s continuously amazing to see them trip over wires that are easily avoidable with minimal patience.

UPDATE: Mack has apologized.

Re: ESPN halftime interview, Chris Mack tells me he apologized to Allison Williams in a postgame interview that may not have aired.

“I’m human and I make mistakes, but I take ownership of it. I won’t lose sleep over people not liking me. It’s onto the next crisis in the world.”

— Danielle Lerner (@danielle_lerner) February 5, 2019


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