How Gregg Popovich’s Eternal Rivalry With the Los Angeles Lakers Influenced Patty Mills’ Move to Nets

Published 08/27/2021, 7:30 AM EDT
May 25, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates with teammates against the Phoenix Suns during the first half in game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


With the off-season almost coming to an end, we can see the teams taking shape for the next campaign. A few teams have particularly stood out more than the others. Notably, the Los Angeles Lakers were active throughout the off season, signing some key players. But, one key free agent evaded them.

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Patty Mills joined the Brooklyn Nets during the offseason. Recently, he revealed what really persuaded him to join the Nets and the main reason may ignite an old rivalry.

Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) battles for the ball with Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (12) and forward Mikal Bridges (25) in the first half during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Gregg Popovich the Main Man

Mills recently spoke about him signing with Brooklyn during the off season. He mentioned that it was more of a group effort while recruiting him. Mills also mentioned the most important conversation he had for his free agency decision was with Gregg Popovich.

Patty, who is a former Spurs man, played under Pop for a good while. During their glory days, Spurs and Lakers went at each other during the playoffs. They are major rivals in the NBA. Likewise, Gregg won and lost battles against them.

With him being the key man in Mills’ signing, he may have had a part in Mills not joining the Lakers. LA being such an active team, it is difficult to think they would pass up on such a skilled player. With Pop behind the scenes, there is a good chance he kept Mills from pursuing a deal with the purple and gold.

Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3), forward LeBron James (23) and coach Frank Vogel react in the second half during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mills had an impressive Olympics, even scoring 42 points in the bronze medal game. Nets have added yet another scoring threat to their lineup with Mills likely to provide the bench boost. However, why does Pop dislike the Lakers?

The Lakers-Spurs Rivalry

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The rivalry between San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers is one of the fiercest in NBA. They have faced off against each other many times in the playoffs. The rivalry took it’s peak in between 1999-2003 where only these two teams won the NBA championship.

Their rivalry was so good, the winner between them would advance into the NBA finals. Both the organizations rank amongst the most successful in the NBA. Hence, it is no surprise that Pop is against the Lakers.

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Who do you like better, Spurs or Lakers? Let us know in the comments below.

WATCH THIS STORY: Milwaukee Bucks vs Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors & Other Exciting Matchups to Look Out for in Upcoming 2021-22 NBA Season

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Anuj Talwalkar

286 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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