Popovich of the Spurs wears a mask for the game

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (AP) – Gregg Popovich was working with a mask on Thursday, though not in his usual role, when the San Antonio Spurs made their debut in the NBA restart game at Walt Disney World.

Popovich was not serving as the head coach for the game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Spurs will rotate assistant coaches in that role for practice games: Becky Hammon had the job on Thursday, Mitch Johnson will do it on Saturday, and Will Hardy will run things in his practice game finale on Tuesday. Popovich was sitting to his left, slightly behind the group, during the first half and moved to a front row seat to start the second half with his mask still in place.

It is unclear whether Popovich will wear a mask during the entire time of the Spurs at Disney. You have not been wearing the masks in practice with the equipment.

Under NBA rule, all assistant coaches behind the first row of seats (there are three rows of bench seats for Disney games, rather than the usual two in NBA arenas) must wear a mask. . Popovich’s original seat appeared to be located between the first and second row, so he wasn’t sure if he was wearing a mask for safety reasons or simply to comply with NBA policy.

Hammon, Johnson, and Hardy were not masked.

Popovich was the coach who spoke at the team’s pre-game press conference and followed NBA rules wearing a mask in that availability.

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“You know, things happen in our lives all the time that are unexpected and have to be dealt with,” said Popovich, speaking about restarting amid a pandemic. “This is another one of those. Obviously a little more dramatic, a little more dangerous and very disruptive. But there is only one option and that is to deal with it, handle it, be wise and try to get the best out of it and move on. ”

At 71, Popovich is the NBA’s oldest active head coach and his involvement with Disney was a point of contention during the league shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control say those over 65 are more susceptible to increases in “severe COVID-19 disease.”

The NBA has three head coaches who are at least 65 years old: Mike D’Antoni of Houston and Alvin Gentry of New Orleans are the others. A pair of attendees who have reached that age, Lionel Hollins of the Los Angeles Lakers and Jeff Bzdelik of New Orleans, are not with their respective teams at Disney for the season restart.

D’Antoni and the Rockets open their scrimmage schedule on Friday, and all Houston coaches will be masked. D’Antoni said he believes it is the right thing to do and hopes he will show fans that they should wear them.

“If I have to shout a little louder so that (the players) can hear me, I will,” said D’Antoni.

Spurs assistant Tim Duncan is also not at Disney, with part of the reason he could stay in San Antonio and help monitor the rehabilitation progress of forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out of the season with a problem in the shoulder.

Hammon served as a head coach before, earning a title with the San Antonio team in the NBA Summer League in 2015. She has often been disputed as a strong candidate to become the NBA’s first head coach. .

“Obviously, these are growth opportunities,” Hammon said after the game when asked about taking the job, even if it was only for one day. “But right now, it’s about our boys. It’s about their growth, not mine, essentially. “


LeBron James played 16 minutes in the first half of the Los Angeles Lakers’ opener against Dallas on Thursday.

James finished with 12 points, five assists and three rebounds. He was 4-for-6 from the field, ending his night with a slam dunk that made him scream with joy.

The Lakers’ plan was to limit James and Anthony Davis to the runs of the first half only. Davis had 12 points in 15 minutes.

After the game, James added his voice to the chorus of many NBA players who have taken time at Disney to speak about their hope of seeing justice for Breonna Taylor.

Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was shot dead when police officers broke into her Louisville apartment with a do not touch order during a narcotics investigation. Her house search warrant was related to a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found.

“I want the police officers who committed that crime arrested,” James said.


The Bucks star and current NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo committed five fouls in the first half in his team’s opening game against San Antonio.

If this had happened in a real game, it would have been a real rarity. The last time a player had five fouls in the first half in an NBA game that counted was on December 7, 2013, when Utah’s Mike Harris did it against Sacramento.

He made no mistake in the second half and finished with 22 points in Milwaukee’s 113-92 victory.


Indiana winner Oladipo, who had been ruled out of the NBA restart due to injury concerns but is reconsidering, began the Pacers’ opener against Portland Thursday.

Oladipo shot 3 of 10 in 19 minutes, scoring eight points in Indiana’s 91-88 victory. Afterward, he said he had not made a final decision on whether to play when games count or not.

“We will see. I am reevaluating every day, only reevaluating after every game,” said Oladipo. “Nothing is definitive. At the end of the day, I am just reading my body. We will see how my body responds after today.

Also back: Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic, another starter in Thursday’s game. It was Nurkic’s first live action in the NBA since he broke his leg on March 25, 2019. Nurkic played 20 minutes, shot 6 for 10 and scored 14 points.

“In the opportunities he had, he looked good,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts.

The Trail Blazers also recovered Zach Collins after he lost several months recovering from shoulder surgery. He had six points and four rebounds.


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