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April 25, 2023 30 mins

Vinny Del Negro takes us through his experiences with the NBA. First, Vinny talks about his role with and the history of the National Basketball Hall of Fame. Then Vinny shares what it was like playing for Jimmy V, he shares what it was like being drafted by the Sacramento Kings and then explains why he decided to play overseas. Later, Vinny talks about how he landed with the Spurs, and what it was like playing alongside Avery Johnson, Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Vinny finishes up discussing the legacy of the Spurs!

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Speaker 1 (00:07):
Welcome to another edition of Sava Spurs podcast on the
longtime radio voice of the Spurs, Bill Shooning. This is episode
number twenty two and it's presented by the fine folks
at SWBC. We are very, very happy and excited to
have our guest on today. Vinnie Del Negro, a native
of Springfield, Massachusetts, played six seasons with the Spurs from
ninety two to ninety eight. He's been a coach to

(00:29):
television analyst. He's worked in the front office. He played
for a long time. He's one of the first guys
that I know of the one overseas and played in Italy.

Speaker 2 (00:36):
And we'll get to all of that.

Speaker 1 (00:38):
But Vinnie, first of all, thank you so much for
joining us as part of the fiftieth anniversary of the Spurs.

Speaker 2 (00:44):
We couldn't do it without you.

Speaker 1 (00:45):
You are a very very important part of those teams
for the Spurs back in the nineties.

Speaker 3 (00:49):
Well, Bill, it's great to see anything for the Spurs. Obviously,
Tom James is a longtime friend. Obviously you and everyone
in San Antonio. So you know, the best year of
my NBA career were in San Antonio with so many
great players, so many great coaches, but really just high
character people that I learned a lot from and that

(01:11):
I talked to and stay in touch with today as
we speak. So fond memories, unbelievable organization, unbelievable people, fans,
just first class and the success speaks for itself.

Speaker 1 (01:26):
We look forward to chatting with you about those years
because you had some very special teammates and I know
you still have bonds as you just mentioned with some
of them. But let's start your journey at the beginning. Vinny,
you're from a town that I know pretty well, Springfield, Massachusetts,
because the Silver and Black. We've had a little parade
going up there, right, It's been a little journey. There's
been some San Antonio to Springfield connections. I was at
Monus Noble's induction last year at the Hall of Fame.

(01:48):
Of course Tim went in the year before. There's a
bunch of them going in this year. So growing up
in the town that is so close to Boston but
at the same time separated from Boston actually because of
the Hall of Fame. What was that hole like your
experience growing up and playing basketball in Springfield, mass Well.

Speaker 4 (02:06):
My dad was a great player.

Speaker 3 (02:07):
He played freight off up at the University of Kentucky,
and then you know, I used to go years ago.
The basketball Hall of Fame used to be at Springfield College.
So my father owned bars and package stores for the
college at Springfield College. My uncle built the library there.
So we'd go to football games at Springfield College and
the Hall of Fame was right there, and you'd walk

(02:28):
down these stairs and it was a small little hall
of Fame, and I'd watch films and we'd be there,
and you know, so Springfield and then it's just continue.
The game is continue to grow. It's continued to evolve
as well as the Hall of Fame. And they've had
a few now and now they're in a world class
basketball Hall of Fame, Nasmith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
That's as good as any hall of Fame you're going

(02:49):
to see. So with all the Hall of famers going
in in San Antonio the last several years, obviously the
great George Gervin, from David obviously Tomnow to Tim now,
Tony Pop, Becky Hammond, there's so many great players. So
you know, being involved with the Hall of Fame like
I am for years, you know, I'm on the board

(03:12):
of trustees for the Basketball Hall of Fame and do
a lot with the Hall of Fame. They have a
lot of great people there, and I'm just happy, you know,
Pop decided finally he has the time to go in,
so it'll be it'll make it even that more special
with Tony and him there.

Speaker 4 (03:27):
You know, Paul Gasol is going in.

Speaker 3 (03:29):
I mean, there's so many, so many great deserving players, coaches,
so it'll be a great ensrinment this August.

Speaker 1 (03:35):
It's a very special place your hometown because of the
Hall of Fame especially, but I'm encouraging a lot of
Spurs fans and basketball fans at all to go see
that beautiful museum.

Speaker 2 (03:44):
It's really a shrine of the sport, isn't it, Benny.

Speaker 4 (03:46):
It's amazing.

Speaker 3 (03:47):
I mean from everything, I mean, the Kobe Bryant exhibit
there is phenomenal. The whole atmosphere, the history of the game,
the memorabilia, the Jerry klangill Ole basketball court, all the
lockers of a lot of the Hall of Fame players,
just the history of James N. A. Smith and all

(04:08):
the great players in the history of basketball. All the
different charity awards, all the different media awards. I mean
it's a special place. It's not something you can tour
one day. It could take you a long time to
see all the memmability that they have. And it's worldwide.
I mean, the game is worldwide. The Hall of Fame
now is obviously worldwide with so many international top level

(04:30):
players and people in their coaches contributors. So it's even
going to be a special enentriyment because coach Jim Valvano,
my NC State basketball coach, is going to be inducted
as a contributor this year. So just a lot of
history for me in Springfield with the Hall of Fame,
and it's just a special place.

Speaker 1 (04:47):
I can tell you've got a broadcasting background because you
just went to that next topic right before I got there.
You beat me to it, and that was Jim Velvado,
who of course is going in as a special contributor.
You played for a very special guy there down in Raleigh.
What about your relationship with coach Valvano and how did
he talk you into going down there, because I'm sure
you had multiple offers.

Speaker 2 (05:05):
You had a very good high school career.

Speaker 4 (05:07):
Well, I was either good.

Speaker 3 (05:08):
Really it came down to I was going to go
to University of Kentucky where my dad went and NC State,
and I was really going to Kentucky and then in
the last minute my rooting ship with coach Valvano and
his staff and people there, I just had a comfort
level with me growing up obviously in a very Italian
neighborhood and family and his background.

Speaker 4 (05:26):
It just kind of worked. And he was tough.

Speaker 3 (05:30):
I mean, you know, he was a no nonsense coach
and demanded a lot from you.

Speaker 4 (05:35):
But that's why we had success there.

Speaker 3 (05:37):
We had great players, we had great teams, but he
created the standards there that was was what was expected
and we were able to, you know, kind of fulfill
some of those things. So the v Foundation and what
they do for cancer research and his legacy that he's left. Unfortunately,
the technologies and the medicines and the things weren't around
when he had cancer and passed the way. But his wife,

(06:01):
his wife Pam now Pam vanald Strausser, who will be
at the enshrinement this year with her daughters and her
husband John. It's going to be a great weekend. And
coach Ovano has been a lot to me, taught me
a lot, pushed me a lot in those years demanded
more from me in the teams. And I've had a
lot of great coaches, you know, I've had a lot

(06:23):
of great mentors in terms of kind of you have
to have your own personality, but you have to be
able to put you want to mentally be You have
to put the work in. It doesn't come easy and
you need people to push you in. Coach Valvano was
one of those coaches for me.

Speaker 2 (06:35):
You know, I had a chance to visit with thorough
Bailey a few weeks ago.

Speaker 1 (06:37):
Thurle of course is now the analyst for the television
side for the Utah Jazz and we talked about that
recent documentary that came out about those guys getting together
and talking about that championship year, and you could tell
the bond there and how much they love coach Valvano.
So I know those guys were right before you, But
did that bond continue with your teammates at NC State

(06:58):
because of Coach Valvano the way he was so warm
and inviting to everyone.

Speaker 3 (07:02):
I think it really just came down to you know,
you know you mentioned thorough Bail. You're not going to
find a better guy than throw Bailey. I mean, he
gets it. He was a very very successful player in
college in the NBA and has gone on to do
great things with his music and with his broadcasting. So
you know, those teams are right before us. So the atmosphere,
the energy, what was expected, what could happen, what you

(07:25):
had to believe in, was already kind of established. And
then our job was to continually improve every day. And
we had, like I said, we always had one of
the top recruiting classes in the country because of Coach
Levano his ability to draw those players, and you feed
off that. You know, like I said before, any successful
coach is going to say, you're gonna have to have
a lot of talent, and we did. So that's a

(07:46):
tribute to him, Coach Levano, his staff, everyone at NC State,
the facilities, everything they'd done there over the years is fantastic.
But back then it was much different, and we had
a lot of talent, a lot of great teams, and
a lot of great memories that don't leave you.

Speaker 1 (08:03):
You got all acc or senior year, he get drafted
by the Sacramento Kings.

Speaker 2 (08:08):
What was that like?

Speaker 1 (08:09):
And then you didn't stay very long before you went
overseas and you don't.

Speaker 2 (08:13):
Hear that happened an awful lot in an NBA career.

Speaker 1 (08:16):
Of course you came back, So take me through that
period of time, Bennie, when you played for the Kings
and then you went over to Benetton Forraviso.

Speaker 3 (08:22):
I actually felt like I was probably going to get
drafted by the Celtics, who had the pick before Sacramento
with great arback. But Bill Russell at the time was
the GM in Sacramento and they took me with the
next pick. So my first NBA call was to my
father's kind of favorite player, idol, Bill Russell. Growing up

(08:44):
in Massachusetts with all the Celtics teams, and my dad
used took me to a lot of Celtics games. I
was at the triple overtime game when they beat Phoenix.
I mean, so I go back a long time with
the Celtics. My family lives in Boston and things, So
getting that first call and Bill Russell was obviously a thrill.
Then going to Sacramento for you know, a couple of years,
I learned a lot. The organization was kind of trying

(09:07):
to find their way a little bit at the time,
and they had offered me a three year extension at
the time, but the money back then was much different
than it is now, and Italy had wanted me to
go to Italy right out of college, right when I
got drafted, and I really wanted to fulfill my dream
to play in the NBA, so I did that. Then

(09:29):
they came back to me when my contract was up
after a couple of years, and the money was so
drastically different, and I knew I could go to Italy
for a year or two, continue to develop my game,
and then after two years I would become a free
agent and Sacramento wouldn't have my rights. And that's when
a few NBA teams that approached me and said, you know,
we'd be interested in signing you. And san Antonio came

(09:52):
in and basically said, hey, you know we want to
we want to get you, and we sat down, negotiated
the deal and the rest of history really and then
ended up playing obviously the next six years in San Antonio,
which I've said before, I was in the best shape,
best teammates, best teams, but the best time in my
NBA career for sure.

Speaker 1 (10:12):
What were those two years like in Italy and how
did you develop your game over there?

Speaker 4 (10:17):
Well, we had really good teams.

Speaker 3 (10:19):
You know, we won the championship my second year, which
they had never done, and we were able to do
a lot of things at that organizette, that team at
the time, Benetton, who was incredibly generous and incredibly supportive,
you know, the Benetton family, all everyone, they flew over
for my wife Lynn in my wedding and president.

Speaker 4 (10:36):
I mean it was just state.

Speaker 3 (10:37):
They were first class, unbelievable, the Treviso people, the arena.
The second year, we were able to get, you know,
some really top level players. Tony Kukoch who played with
the Bulls for year, was a tremendous player, especially in Europe.
You know, Masimon Yacopinia, great guard of the national team,
Stephan Overrasconi, one of the centers for the national team.

(10:58):
Just a lot of really good players and we're are
to be very good. Obviously, winning the Italian Championship create
kind of a standard atmosphere there that they never had had,
and then they kind of bought into it more and
ended up having a lot of great years for Benetton
and the European championship level and the Italian championship level.
So very proud of that very great time in my life.
I was able to develop my game, get stronger, just

(11:21):
kind of confidence, just get better. Could have stayed in
the NBA at that time, but I thought it was
best for me, obviously at that time, to kind.

Speaker 4 (11:28):
Of move on and regroup a little bit.

Speaker 3 (11:30):
And it worked out perfect because I was able to
in two years develop my game, be a better player,
and then go to San Antonio.

Speaker 4 (11:36):
And you know, the kind of the rest is history.

Speaker 1 (11:39):
But the real reason, Vennie, was to improve your Italian
and pick up some good recipes.

Speaker 2 (11:43):
Right.

Speaker 4 (11:43):
Well, that was easy.

Speaker 3 (11:44):
Yeah, you know, I was spoiled growing up by a
great Attalian food. But there's nothing like living in Italy,
the lifestyle.

Speaker 4 (11:49):
I loved it.

Speaker 3 (11:51):
A lot of great teammates, great coaches, great organization, and
the food and the travel. And traveled all over the
world playing basketball in those two years in turns and
you know, France, Spain, Italy, I mean, Yugoslavia, anywhere you
can think of. We went because we had such good
teams and played in a lot of tournaments everywhere.

Speaker 4 (12:09):
So great experience at a young age.

Speaker 3 (12:11):
But it was time for me to, you know, kind
of get back to the NBA because that's where I
felt I needed to expand my game, and it was
going to challenge me more.

Speaker 4 (12:19):
And you know, it was lucky enough to sign with
San Antonio.

Speaker 1 (12:24):
You're with the Spurs for six seasons, Vinnie and you
had some very very good teammates. And of course a
lot of people still talk about the backcourt of Avery
Johnson and Vinnie Del Negro because you guys were very efficient, first.

Speaker 2 (12:35):
Of all, and you didn't turn the ball over.

Speaker 1 (12:37):
I think there were a couple of times where you
led the league and assist a turnover ratio.

Speaker 2 (12:42):
What was it like to play with Avery, especially the
way he is.

Speaker 1 (12:45):
I mean, you know, obviously his personality and he's a
take charge guy obviously, but he was just with us
in Austin. You know, the Spurs played a couple of
games in Austin at the Moody Center that Brandon Imina
at the University of Texas, and Avery was doing the
work on television right next me, and I could hear
him the entire broadcast.

Speaker 4 (13:02):
Can you imagine that he doesn't change? There's no question,
you know when Avery's in the room, for sure.

Speaker 3 (13:06):
So you know, it was interesting early on when I
was in San Antonio, had to play a little point
guard position, which I could do, but I wasn't as comfortable.
I mean, I was a shooter. I was a pick
and roll shooter. And then you know, with so many guys,
you know, Dave is going to get double teamed. You
know they're going to put two or three guys on
David for sure. So having space it on the court
was important. So once me and Avery kind of got

(13:27):
that connection where Avery was like the little general out there,
you know, Avery wanted to pass and create and penetrate
and I wanted to you know, shoot and run, pick
and roll and space the court. And it was important
to us not to turn the ball over because we
really felt like if we could control the temple of
the game with having David and Sean and the level
of players that we had not only as starters, but

(13:48):
our bench was always really good, that we could win
a lot of games and put ourselves in opportunities to
you know, continually move up in the playoffs and create
something special there, which really happened.

Speaker 4 (13:57):
So there was a bomb there with all of us.

Speaker 3 (14:01):
You know, that was the key. It wasn't about anybody's
personal statistics. It was about doing your job. It was
about you know, It's funny. You know, the best teams
I was on in San Antonio. If I had a
bad game, you know, I was disappointed at myself, but
I felt bad for my teammates. And so once you
get to that level and understand the the sense of

(14:24):
responsibility you have, and you know these guys are your brothers.
You know, you're sweating in the summers, you're practicing in
training camps and during the season and on the adversity
of the season and having your ups and downs and
getting on long wind streaks and things like that. When
you don't play well, you feel bad for yourself. You know,
you would feel bad more for Hey, I let my

(14:46):
guys down. You know, we had so many good teams.
We could sometimes play bad for two or three quarters
but have one really good quarter or David could take over,
I could hit some shots, or Sean or you know,
and we could still win some game. But we knew
in order for us to continually climb that ladder, we
had to be far more consistent. So I think the

(15:07):
greatest team thing about the teams was we had high
character guys, you know what I mean, like guys that
got it. And when I mean that I mean like
they felt the responsibility. We came to work, we did
our job, We wanted to improve, we wanted to play
the right way. If someone had a better shot, get
them the ball. It became almost like second nature, almost

(15:32):
like clockwork. And that's what kind of made the experience
I think special for everybody. And then I think with
with David and that group of guys, we had we
created a level of an atmosphere level in the organization
that once you got Tim Duncan and once they did

(15:52):
a great job, you know in the draft, getting Tony
and Manu and those great players, I think that standard
was set and they kind of fed off that. And obviously,
you know, even before Pop we were creating that standard.
And then when Pop Turn took over, it was even
at a much greater level. And he doesn't take enough credit,
and he never will because that's his personality, but his

(16:15):
military background, what he expected from everybody, you know, the toughness,
the durability, playing when you're injured, creating that atmosphere practicing
the right way. It was easy because all the guys
that I mentioned, and there's so many of them, had
created that. But they want, you know, we wanted to
improve and do better, and then the rest of those

(16:36):
guys as we got older, they took over and they
took it to even another level, and it's been fantastic
to watch. But it doesn't just happen. It happens with
great high character, an atmosphere, and a standard that's created there.
So I'm pleased to be a little sliver of that,
but I'm more pleased about the memories and then about

(16:58):
the relationships and about playing the game the right way
in front of great fans that appreciated that in a
great city that was always behind us. Playing in the
Hemisphere arena to the Alimaldome was a different experience, but
unbelievable atmospheres, fans support, and great memories.

Speaker 1 (17:17):
If I'm not mistaken, you played the last year in
the Hemisphere, Raider, right, didn't Wasn't that?

Speaker 2 (17:22):
Was that your first year or the last season in
the Hemisphere.

Speaker 3 (17:25):
It might have been, you know, I don't remember if
I played one or two. I think it was one
year maybe in Hemisphere.

Speaker 2 (17:30):
Phoenix, Yeah, Phoenix knock you guys out in the playoffs.

Speaker 4 (17:33):
Yeah yeah, Charles with that shot.

Speaker 3 (17:36):
And then a couple of years later we beat Phoenix
and a couple of year later, I think we beat
him again, so that was a good revenge for us.
But Phoenix always had really good teams. Obviously, I live
in Arizona. I worked for the Suns for years, played
from at the end of my career. But yeah, I
mean San Antonio we were just a really good, well
oiled machine at that time.

Speaker 4 (17:54):
And you know.

Speaker 3 (17:56):
We had our bumps and bruises in the playoffs that
we learned from at times, and we took some some bumps,
but we kept fighting and caming back and it was
just a matter of time, I thought. Especially you know,
David was such a great player and he kind of
let every all of us do our thing. And but yeah,
I mean we had the guys that coming off the bench.
I mean, you know, from Doc Rivers, Monty Williams, Chuck Person,

(18:20):
Terry Cummings. You know, you can say what you want
about Dennis Rodman, but Avery Sean and myself statistically, along
with David had the best careers of our you know,
best years of our career when Dennis was around, and
we won I think sixty or sixty two or four
games or something, and won a bunch of games, and
you know, they fed off each other. But you know,

(18:41):
Sean was a special player, you know, battling through his
health issues and injuries, and Avery and myself, I mean,
just tremendous, tremendous you know players.

Speaker 4 (18:50):
And great guys.

Speaker 1 (18:51):
You were part of that big turnaround too, right, because
of all the injuries in the ninety six ninety seven season,
the Spurs end up getting the number one pick and
you got a chance to play with Tim Duncan, and
then everybody got healthy, including yourself and David of course.
So that was the largest turning around in NBA history
at that time. As you guys won fifty six games
that next year.

Speaker 3 (19:11):
Well, I remember when we drafted Tim. Right when the
draft happened, I'll never forget it. I was in my
kitchen in San Antonio. My phone rang like right when
they said Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs, and Avery called
me right like right then, He's like, we're back.

Speaker 4 (19:26):
When do you want to work out? Let's go?

Speaker 3 (19:28):
Like he was like it was hilarious. He was like screaming,
Oh I was screaming. I said, like, man, Tim and
David together, are you kidding me? And we're in the backboard,
I said, we cannot screw this up, you know what
I mean. We were laughing, and so, you know, red
Beads and Rice as they used to call us. We
went to work and we got in the gym. I'll

(19:48):
never forget it. We're in the gym and the guards
would do all, you know, in the summer, we do
the shooting drills. And we were at a you know,
at that time, we were at a I don't even
remember the name of it, like A twenty for our
fitness or something like that was the gym we used
because we didn't even have a practice gym at that time, Trinity, yeah, something.
We got some fitness center playing in the summer, and

(20:10):
we'd go lift weights and then we'd go in the
gym and play, and the guards would do their shooting
and one on one and all these drills, and then
Tim would come in and then we were on the
other end of the court and Tim and David were
playing one on one and I think David had just
won like the year before, maybe Defensive Player of the
Year or something, I don't know, whatever, but and we

(20:30):
were watching kind of Tim's footwork in the post. And
Tim was a lot thicker than David. You know, David
was incredibly athletic, but Tim was like more methodical and
you know and big hands and kind of up and
unders and footwork and jump hooks and everything. And he
was scoring on David and the one on one and
so me and Avery and some we were sitting there going,
oh my god, if he's scoring on David, there's like

(20:52):
no one scores on David, like maybe Elijah one obviously,
and maybe you know, call Malone and Charles and like
the great the top guys like Patrick, and but like
he's a rookie. He just like walked in the gym
and he's scoring on David, Like, oh my, this guy
is unbelievable. So you could just tell. I think the
greatest thing about Tim that's that's misled is his his demeanor.

(21:15):
Like Tim always had like this psychological major demeanor, like
he never showed you that anything phased him, but in
private you could see that it really phased him or
pissed him off, to be honest with you, but he
never let anybody see it, which is like a gift
where like I'm Italian, so I'm like yelling in my

(21:35):
hands and like Avery's streaming, and but like Tim is
like sitting there going relax, like you know, I mean,
it was just such a different I think that other
than Tim is phenomenal player, phenomenal, you know, the best
powerful whatever that I've seen, but but just his I
think really his demeanor kind of fit in with the
group so well. Because if Avery wasn't talking, I was talking,

(21:59):
Like it was like a weird but it just kind
of worked. So that was cool to see and it
was actually really cool, and it was hard at the
beginning because David was the guy obviously, but then eventually
you could see like David knew he was going to
hand it over to Tim, and then Tim kind of
like over the years, handed it over to Tony and
then Tony and Manu kind of handled it for a

(22:21):
long time. Like it was just kind of a really
neat thing to see.

Speaker 4 (22:25):
And that's all.

Speaker 3 (22:26):
That's a really hard thing to do when you're a
superstar like David or a superstar like Tim or so
I think that really shows a lot of what the
Spurs are about. To be able to transfer that lead
guy the right way and have that consistent success for
so many years. I think that's a really thing that

(22:48):
is hard to do, and I think this. You know
Pop coach Pop's atmosphere and his ability with people, and
I'm not saying that was an easy transition all the time,
but you see it worked incredibly well, and I think
you'd be hard pressed to see that transfer of that
success in any organization go as smoothly as it did

(23:09):
in San Antonio.

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(23:34):
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Speaker 2 (23:48):
Dinny, before we let you go, what are you up
to these days?

Speaker 1 (23:51):
Other than maybe going out there and shooting sixty eight
and sixty seven, well.

Speaker 3 (23:55):
Playing, you know, just charity stuff with the v Foundation,
with the Basketball Hall of Fame. Family stuff, obviously, some
business things I'm involved with as an advisor, some companies
and things I enjoy. Family, a lot of family things
and playing some golf, but just enjoying I've been so
fortunate to have played front office, radio, and TV. Obviously coaching,

(24:18):
there's things I miss. Obviously, the game has changed dramatically
in a lot of different ways, in some ways better,
in some ways I think probably not as well. But
the support out there from the fans worldwide, the growth
of the game is amazing. The technology, the things that
are going on some of these amazing players we see
in the league is fantastic. So I enjoy watching the playoffs.

(24:40):
Obviously I stay involved in basketball with the League a
little bit, but mostly.

Speaker 4 (24:43):
With the Hall of Fame.

Speaker 3 (24:44):
And you know, I've been very fortunate to be in
the game for you know, over thirty years in some capacity.
So been been very fortunate, had a great wife, a
great family, great support system, and I was very lucky
to play in San Antonio for all those years and
not only play, but really kind of learn a lot
of things that I took into coaching. And you know,

(25:06):
coach Pop, whether it's a player as a coach, has
always been one thousand percent supportive. You know, I'll tell
you a quick story. Several stories I could I could
talk for hours about that, but two stories I'll tell
you is so I'm playing for Pop and his first
year and we had just built a new house in

(25:27):
San Antonio. And I came home after practice one day
and Pop obviously loves wine, and my wife loves wine
and things, and so I came home and my wife
and Lynn wasn't home. So I'm like, she didn't call me.
I didn't know where she ran to the store or something.
And all of a sudden, within two minutes, I hear

(25:48):
the garage door coming up. So I go outside and
figure she might have some groceries whatever. Well, Pop after
practice left and picked my wife up and took her
and he bought Like I don't know how he cases
a wine, right of course, right, so for for my wife,
so and so I'll never forget it. So he's in
the driveway, we bring the cases of wine in and

(26:09):
my wife's inside and he kind of looks at me
before he gets in the car and he goes, your
wife loves me. Now you have to listen everything I
have to say. So and he like gives me that
little pop smirk, gets in his car and drives away.

Speaker 4 (26:22):
Right.

Speaker 3 (26:23):
So it's kind of like a funny thing, right right.
Then years later coaching, we when I was with the Clippers.
We had beat Memphis and uh, I'll never forget it.
We come into the hotel in San Antonio and my
phone rings in my room. I walk, I mean literally,
the door opens, boom, The luggage isn't even there.

Speaker 4 (26:46):
The phone rings, like who's calling me? Right?

Speaker 3 (26:48):
So I pick it up and it's Pop. First person
I talked to. So he's like, hey, congratulations. But we
go through the coach and stuff and things and congratulations.
If you need anything, you need a rest, yeah, I've
been in San Antonia. I got all the restaurants blah
blah blah. So it was like the first call right
after that, you know, or whenever I had some issues

(27:08):
going on as a young coach, obviously, you know, I
would pick the phone up and he was always available.
Or I'd call him in the summer.

Speaker 4 (27:14):
And talk to him.

Speaker 3 (27:14):
He might be traveling the world or whatever he was doing,
but he'd always pick up and it was always very helpful,
very supportive. So obviously those things go a long way.
The relationships never go away. When you have respect and
you respect the work that people have done for you
with you, Obviously, those are things that you can always have.

Speaker 4 (27:35):
In your memory bank and they never go away.

Speaker 1 (27:37):
That's what Pop always says. Number one thing about this
whole league is relationships, and.

Speaker 4 (27:42):
Oh for sure, no question about it. He knows better
than anyone.

Speaker 2 (27:45):
Yep.

Speaker 1 (27:45):
Absolutely, Hey Bennie, it's what a pleasure it was to
have you on the show today.

Speaker 2 (27:49):
Thank you so much.

Speaker 1 (27:50):
Final question that is, you know, this is the fiftieth
anniversary of the Spurs. I ask all the guests this.
When you look at the legacy of the team. Of course,
it started in the ABA way back than the Dallash
Apparels moved to San Antonio and the for the seventy
two seventy three season. But when you think about the
legacy of the Spurs, what key words would come to
your mind?

Speaker 4 (28:10):
Wow, that's that's tough. I would have to say.

Speaker 3 (28:14):
Professionalism, consistency, a standard of excellence, incredible fans.

Speaker 4 (28:21):
I mean, there's so many.

Speaker 3 (28:23):
I mean, but really, to me, I would I would
think that the high character of people and the level
of players that have come through San Antonio throughout the
years is remarkable.

Speaker 4 (28:36):
But also, you know, you're not going to have the success.

Speaker 3 (28:39):
Without the players, without the commitment, without the guidance of
having great coaches. Obviously, Pop is at the top of
that list, and all the great players, but all the
great support systems, all the great assistant coaches. I mean,
there's there's hard to say one word. I mean, you
could have so many things that I think of, but
I would think, you know, commitment to excellence and kind

(29:03):
of doing it the right way with high character people
over a long period of time, with Pop being the
catalyst of all that. But even before Pop, there's been
some great players and great coaches. But we look at
the last twenty or so years, I think you'd be
hard pressed to find any organization or there's probably just
a few that have had that type of success with

(29:24):
that level of high character player in person, and the
Spurs have done that as well as anybody.

Speaker 2 (29:31):
Vinny del Negro, thank you so much for your time.
We appreciate that.

Speaker 1 (29:34):
I think Sean Elliott wants to meet you out of quarry,
maybe playing in the back nine.

Speaker 4 (29:39):
No, Sean, I need a couple of shots aside and
we'll I'll show up.

Speaker 2 (29:42):
I think he's going to say it the other way around.
I'm sure. Hey, thanks, Betty, appreciate you.

Speaker 4 (29:46):
You got to Bill good to see us.

Speaker 1 (29:47):
Always a six year Spur back of the nineties, Vinnie
del Nagro. Sound as Spurs podcast, brought to you by
s WBC. I'm Bill Sheening, so long, everybody
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