Legendary San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is just one win away from passing Don Nelson as the NBA’s all-time wins leader.
With 1,335 wins in his storied history with the franchise, Popovich has been typically low key about the monumental milestone according to Spurs big man Jock Landale.
“I would say the only thing we are doing is slowly stacking waters and putting them in our lockers for that shower we’re going to give him,” Landale told ESPN’s The Jump.
“There hasn’t been a lot of conversation about it, he’s a pretty straight forward guy and he’s probably got bigger things on his mind but that is one hell of an achievement. I’m sure he’ll celebrate it but if he doesn ‘t, I’m sure a lot of the players and members of the organization will, because he deserves it, he’s an incredible coach and an incredible man. “
Nearing the end of his first regular season as an NBA player, Landale is learning the art of ‘staying ready’ as a reserve in the league, with minimal communication from Popovich and the San Antonio coaching staff regarding minute totals on a night-to- night basis.
“That’s part of being a pro. That’s another lesson I’ve had to learn,” he admits. “We have to get on with the job regardless of what’s going on around us. For us, that’s what being a pro is. You kind of have to figure it out yourself, it is a harsh reality. Being a Spur, you just have to figure it out yourself and if anything, it really weeds out who the professionals are.
“I have ups and downs but it’s about managing mentally and getting on with the job and I think I’ve hit a groove in doing that. I think that will lead to success and hopefully gain the organization’s trust.”
Landale has appeared in 40 games so far, averaging 10.3 minutes per game, with the average being made up of major minutes one night, and garbage time the next.
“Especially the last few weeks I’ve been able to relax even if things aren’t necessarily going my way,” he said. “Calming down, I have a bit of a mind that can be bonkers at times, that’s probably been the biggest lesson. It’s the little things in this league; diet, sleep and all that recovery stuff that’s so important in an 82-game season . “
When time permits, Landale still has his eyes on his old club, Melbourne United. With a number of NBL players in draft contention this season, Landale credits his time in the league as the perfect steppingstone for his move to the NBA.
“The NBL has put itself in the position where it’s the most like the NBA in terms of style and I needed that year personally,” he said. “They develop guys they think have potential of going to the NBA.
“The attention to detail they give and the opportunity to play against grown men at a high level, the NBL is one of the highest leagues in the world. You can’t get that in college; you can’t get that in various leagues in the world. I think the NBL is the best league for young players getting themselves ready for this big step. “
With 16 games remaining in the regular season schedule, San Antonio are currently 2.0 games behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the final spot in the play-in tournament. With the postseason still in reach, the stretch run will be important for the big man, who has a non-guaranteed contract for the 2022-23 season.
“I definitely believe the Spurs will pick up that option and will continue to work with me,” Landale says of his contract status.
“In the short amount of real game time I’ve been given I’ve performed well. If you just want to read the numbers, do your thing, but it’s not accurate. Some games I play one minute a night.”
While acknowledging there is plenty of development to come, Landale has found a home in San Antonio, with hopes this is just the beginning of a long NBA career with the franchise.
“Not once have I felt out of my depth,” he said. “I haven’t felt the athleticism is too much. I haven’t felt it’s been my best year of basketball by any measure, but I think it’s been good. I feel like there is buy in, it feels like they are putting effort into me.
“Personally, I feel confident there is a future here in San Antonio and I don’t really want to go anywhere else, but if the case was they moved off me, I feel as though there would be opportunities elsewhere in this league and I ‘ll make it work. “
Watch The Jump on ESPN with Andrew Gaze, Lanard Copeland, Nat Edward and Kane Pitman, every Friday night at 7pm or catchup with previous episodes on Kayo.