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Pop on Finley: ‘I don’t blame him’

03.28.10 at 7:55 pm ET
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An hour or so before Michael Finley was set to play his old team, Gregg Popovich reflected on how it all went down. Finley had been dropped from the Spurs rotation and was looking at spending the rest of the season watching instead of playing. So, the veteran made the unusual decision to ask out of one of the best situations in the NBA.

The two talked it over in Popovich’s house where Finley made his request and they decided to part ways.

“I made a decision to play other people and we honored Michael’€™s request to seek another team,” Popovich said. “He asked and he decided to do it. And to do it the right way, to do it before the cut-off date so that he could go with a team that he could play with in the playoffs.”

Finley ultimately signed with the Celtics where he is on way to earning a spot in the playoff rotation. Doc Rivers all but confirmed that he was leaning that way Friday night when he noted Finley’s shooting ability and veteran presence with the second unit.

Since leaving San Antonio, Finley has been nothing but complimentary about the Spurs and his time there. Popovich returned the favor Sunday night.

“Everybody asks about it and I was surprised when he asked that,” Popovich said. “I didn’€™t think that would be something that Michael Finley would ask to do. One has to be realistic and put oneself in [his] shoes. If you are toward the end of your career and somebody’€™s not going to play you and you still want to play more basketball, what’€™s wrong with asking to play elsewhere and trying to play as long as you possibly can?

“That’€™s what he did and I don’€™t blame him for that a lick,” Pop continued. “He’€™s one of the greatest guys I’€™ve ever coached, but he wanted to keep playing. He didn’€™t want to it there on the bench for the rest of the season. Nothing wrong with that. He wanted to play.”

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