Gregg Popovich: Spurs Will Listen to NBA, Not Gov. Greg Abbott About Masks

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 3, 2021

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Antonio, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he's lifting the state's mask mandate, but the San Antonio Spurs are not planning to follow the updated guidance.

"As far as the players go, we listen to the NBA, not the governor," head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Tuesday.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also announced he would be ending his state's mask requirement.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

"If you have half a brain, you have to take this seriously." Pop talks about wearing a mask and staying safe during the pandemic (➡️ @tractorsupply) https://t.co/CGEKJi4U5U

Popovich acknowledged the toll the pandemic has taken on businesses, but he stressed that the pandemic is not over. 

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called it "pretty mystifying" for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to lift mask mandates while the pandemic is still going on https://t.co/fRrSelcchB

According to the New York Times, 13 percent of people in Texas have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, ranking it among the slowest states in the country to roll out the vaccine. 

The NBA's health and safety protocols were updated at the start of February to require players, coaches and staff members to wear KN95 or KF94 masks in the bench area, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Players are also prohibited from having guests on the road, and the new protocols cut down on on-court events before and after games.

Popovich has been outspoken about the pandemic since last summer. In an appearance on TNT's The Arena in July, the 72-year-old implored viewers to wear a mask and take the pandemic seriously.

Steve Popper @StevePopper

Pop went a lot harder when pressed - pointing out that this seems to act like the virus is gone and will lead to tough situations for businesses while bringing on more deaths.

"I don't want to die," he said. "I wear my mask all the time. ... If you have half a brain, you have to take this seriously."

He received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of January and appeared in a league PSA alongside legendary center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to promote the vaccine (h/t Mark Medina of USA Today). 

The league has had to postpone 31 games due to its health and safety protocols so far this season.