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Spurs' Popovich in rarest of forms before Game 7

MIAMI -- Gregg Popovich's interactions with the media are legendary. And Coach Pop was in the rarest of forms before the last and biggest game of the season, Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

"There's no eighth game, is there?" the Spurs coach said in his pregame news conference Thursday. "This is the last game? That's the best news I've heard all day."

"Why is your team going to win?" Popovich was asked.

"Am I on one of those morning shows?" he replied.

On whether he enjoys the opportunity to coach a Game 7 in the Finals, Pop said, "It's torture. It's hard to appreciate or enjoy torture."

"What's worse torture," Popovich was asked. "To talk with journalists or to be one hour away from [Game 7]?"

"This is one of the joys of my life right here," Popovich said. "This is great fun. There's nothing I would rather be doing. The questions are so incisive and well thought out, how can one not enjoy the challenge?"

When the media briefing seemed to have run its course, Popovich said, "I have more time. The busier I am before the game, the less I'll worry. Just keep rolling."

Unlike Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Popovich revealed that there would be no change in his starting lineup. Spoelstra stuck with his standard, "I'll turn in my card in 45 minutes." (Sad trumpet sound.)

Popovich was asked a serious question eventually, and he gave a serious, candid answer. The question was about whether Popovich would need some time after the season to decide whether he wants to return and coach the Spurs next year in what would be his 18th season.

"I think vacation is overrated," Popovich said. "I mean, I'll take some time. I'll walk the streets someplace and I'll travel and I'll spend time with my family in other places. But after a while, just getting up when you want in the morning and really not having challenges gets a little boring. You can only grow so many tomatoes and read so many books. You want to get busy, get competitive again.

"When I stop feeling competitive around September," Popovich said, "then I'll hang it up."

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