Gregg Popovich to Miss Spurs' Next 2 Games for Family Medical Situation

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2016

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, right, argues a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The San Antonio Spurs will be without head coach Gregg Popovich for their next two games as he deals with a "family medical situation," per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.

According to Orsborn, assistant coach Ettore Messina will handle head coaching duties while Popovich is absent.

"It won't change things," said forward David West of the situation, per Orsborn. "We've got a really veteran group, guys who are not going to deviate from what we've been doing. We know we've got to play defense and move the ball and get the best shot available every offensive possession."

Popovich last missed a regular-season game in November 2014 as he recovered from a minor medical procedure. He ended up missing two games. As is the case now, Messina filled in for Popovich for those games, and in doing so, he became the first European-born head coach in NBA history.

The 56-year-old Italian joined the Spurs at the start of the 2014-15 season after a decorated coaching career overseas, which included stints with CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid and Virtus Bologna.

"He's a class act, a lot classier and suave than I am," Popovich said of Messina in October 2014, per Mike Monroe for the San Antonio Express-News. "He's a sharp dude, and he knows what he's doing. Having Ettore here is great for our program and fun for me; somebody I can bounce things off and same generation kind of thing."

As long as Popovich's personal matters don't force him to miss a long stretch of games, the Spurs shouldn't suffer much on the court without him. The Golden State Warriors demonstrated earlier in the year how a cohesive team can still function extremely well, as they went 39-4 under assistant Luke Walton.

San Antonio will ideally have Pop back before Saturday, though. Between March 12 and 19, the Spurs face off with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers and close out the homestand with the Warriors. That stretch of games becomes all the more daunting without Popovich on the bench.