You crave the recipe of his secret sauce. You believe you've identified some of its special ingredients: draft foreign players, shoot corner 3s, emphasize defense, share the ball, victimize trembling sideline reporters. ... You'd like to believe you've captured the essence of the bearded coach stomping along the sideline -- a blend of Midas, Yoda and occasionally a teeth-baring pit bull. ... But, in truth, you haven't -- you never could -- because you don't fully realize the simple truths of his journey: how the man who demands respect through discipline and selflessness was once an impatient Air Force cadet who complained vociferously (and repeatedly) to his coach about a larger role. How his bid to represent the United States in the Olympic Games as a player was squashed by petty politics. How his wish to coach the 2008 Dream Team was crushed by miscommunication and subterfuge. How he was passed over -- twice -- for the very Spurs job he now holds. How when he finally got that job, he spent his weekends passing out free wieners in a parking lot hoping to generate basketball interest in a football-crazed state. ... Talk to players, coaches and executives who have worked with Gregg Popovich, and they'll say these are the events that shaped him. Tremendous obstacles. Cold, hard truths. Popovich may float above the fray now, but he earned that ascent -- one gritty step at a time. ... The team's continuity, Pop explains, is why they succeed. Owner Peter Holt, Popovich and Buford have unconditionally backed one another for 22 years.