In this age of emails and social media, Bentley Baker of central Connecticut actually took the time to write 14 letters -- by hand.
In his letters, Bentley offered the recipients words of encouragement, some questions about the NBA basketball bubbles and one simple, final question: Can I have your autograph?
Bentley told ESPN that as he sent off his letters, he wondered if any of the recipients would even get the correspondence, let alone read it and take time in their busy lives to write back.
Among the people that Bentley wrote to was San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
A couple of weeks went by and Bentley got his first letter back. It was from Pop.
In the letter, Bentley asked Popovich if he had any tips about becoming a coach or front-office NBA person and if he could have the coach’s autograph.
Bentley told ESPN that Popovich responded with three thoughts:
“To Bentley, make education and honesty your priorities and you will be happy and at peace. Gregg Popovich”
“Keep a strong work ethic. Be humble and empathetic.”
“A sense of humor is mandatory! All the best. Me again. Coach Pop”
Popovich then signed the letter.
ESPN reporter Ryan Hockensmith, who is a family friend of Bentley’s, interviewed Popovich about the letter.
Popovich said he loved responding to “genuine people,” and Bentley seemed to be that type of person. Popovich said he learned to respond to everybody who reaches out to him when he spent a year at North Carolina, where he watched legendary coach Dean Smith carefully manage any and all fan outreaches.
“I always told myself if I was ever in a position where people actually felt like writing to me, for whatever reason, I would do my best to respond,” Popovich said.
Click here to read the original article published on ESPN.