Greg Popovich Helped Inspire... Ted Lasso?

Season 2 of Ted Lasso is about to drop and if you haven’t watched it, you need to fix that STAT. It’s just a delight. If you don’t know, it’s the story of a very personal but small-time American football coach hired to run an English Premier League soccer team despite having zero experience and knowledge about soccer. It’s not a spoiler to say he’s brought it to tank the team, and the results are absolutely hilarious.

Maybe the best comedy of the last year. 

Jason Sudekis plays Ted Lasso and his character is incredible. Reags blogged that the character was based in part on Sudekis’ old high school coach: 

But a recent article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out a couple of interesting facts. The character Ted Lasso was not only based on his high school basketball coach, but also a number of other coaches, including some NBA ones.

Turns out the character was based on real-life basketball coaches of all levels. Sudekis grew up hooping, playing basketball in college, and said the main inspiration was his high school hoops coach Donnie Campbell along with coaches like Bill Self, Phil Jackson and …. GREG POPOVICH? 

Greg. Popovich. The same guy who hates to use the word “happy.”

But as Brendan Hunt, the show’s co-creator (who hilariously plays Ted’s assistant Coach Beard):

Gregg Popovich was another source for the writers as they brainstormed unorthodox ways for a coach to establish trust with his team. Lasso stages an exorcism to lift a curse on AFC Richmond. Popovich takes the San Antonio Spurs to long, wine-soaked dinners. “We thought of that as very Lassosesque,” Hunt said. 

But as it turns out, the character and the show are also being used by NBA coaches as a way to better communicate with players. As the article notes:

Tyranny is out. Empathy is in. Coaches are getting the most of players by relating to them, not dictating to them, while keeping them accountable without coddling them. They are behaving more like Ted Lasso.

So it’s not a surprise that Quinn Snyder uses quotes and anecdotes from the show and says “it’s required viewing for any coach.” I mean, of all the coaches in the NBA to use the Ted Lasso “goldfish only have a 10 second memory” quote it HAS to be Snyder. He has an entire fan base he’d like to memory wipe, Men In Black style as the Jazz are already over the cap without re-signing Conley and need a roster overhaul like ASAP rocky. 

Steve Kerr LOVES Ted Lasso and was one of its earliest supporters, in part because one of his kids works on the show. But he’s been going Full Lasso for some time:

Lasso takes suggestions for set pieces from his players and promotes Nate the kit man to assistant coach since he’s already crafting strategy in addition to cleaning laundry. The most famous example of Kerr going full Lasso was the time the Warriors went small in the 2015 NBA Finals and he deflected credit for the schematic tweak that helped win a championship to Nick U’Ren, a previously anonymous special assistant to the head coach.

Even Chris Paul binged the series during the playoffs this year, and no one better make a fucking joke about CP3 watching TV instead of game film. 

Season 2 of Ted Lasso is set to drop July 23rd and everyone is eager to see if Ted channels his inner Popovich.

We talk about this along with previewing Game 6 on the latest episode of This League.