Lakers: Gregg Popovich criticizes LeBron and AD’s defense

(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

Gregg Popovich had something to say about the Los Angeles Lakers.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is very familiar with the Los Angeles Lakers. In the early ’00s, his Spurs competed against the Lakers for Western Conference Supremacy.

Recently one of his former players, Danny Green, helped the Lakers capture their 17th NBA championship. Green is well-acquainted with Popovich from his days as a member of the Spurs organization. In 2014 Green helped Pop win his fifth ring as a head coach when his team defeated the Miami Heat in five NBA Finals games.

Pop congratulated Green in vintage fashion by taking a jab at LeBron James and Anthony Davis simultaneously.

“Tell LeBron and AD I said congrats as well, but tell them to play a little more defense,” Pop said in a text message to Green, according to GQ’s Taylor Rooks.

Popovich knows very well what a great defender James can be when he is locked in. When he met Tiago Splitter at the rim in the 2013 Finals, the infamous block immediately comes to mind. But even though that was years ago, James and Davis’s defense helped propel the Lakers to a title this past season.

The Lakers allowed the third-fewest points per game (106.0) in the playoffs, trailing only the Boston Celtics (1st) and the Toronto Raptors (2nd). During Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers put on a clinic at the defensive end and led the Heat 64-36 at halftime — the game’s largest lead.

Team defense was a significant focus of Frank Vogel and his coaching staff heading into the season. Davis, paired with big men Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee (both have since left the Lakers), formed one of the league’s tallest teams.

The Lakers led the NBA in blocks with 6.3 per game. Davis alone was a one-person wrecking crew. Many believed he should have won Defensive Player of the Year over Giannis Antetokounmpo, but being first runner-up isn’t too shabby.

According to StatMuse, Davis had the third-best defensive rating (101.8) with a minimum of 2000 minutes played per 82 games this season. By any metric, Davis was a force both on the perimeter and in the paint.

He was the one who set the tone at the beginning of the season when he openly said he has no problem holding guys accountable on the defensive end. He and James fed off one another, especially early in the 2019-2020 campaign. We saw an inspired and renewed James on defense, one we hadn’t seen over the last few years.

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We all know Popovich has a way with words, so there may have been some level of seriousness in his text message to Green. With him, you never know.