Now, he’ll miss a regular-season game with a health issue.
Lead assistant Ettore Messina will take over for Gregg Popovich tonight against Indiana as the Spurs head coach after the future Hall of Famer underwent what is being described as a minor medical procedure.
Popovich could miss several more games, giving Messina — one of the most accomplished coaches in European history before joining the Spurs this summer — an extended opportunity to fill in.
“He will be back soon,” said Messina, who also served as head coach for one game against Phoenix in the preseason. “Obviously it’s not what you want but (Popovich’s situation) is nothing big. You just hope you don’t mess it up. Everybody here helps me from Day 1 to feel very comfortable. The only thing I should make sure is that I don’t call plays only for Manu. I will not do that.”
Hopefully, this is as minor as the Spurs indicated. Popovich also signed a contract extension this summer, and the NBA would be less interesting without its best (and most candid) coach.
San Antonio hired Messina this offseason, and he had a great track record as CSKA Moscow’s head coach. He becomes the first foreign-born NBA coach aside from Kiki Vandeweghe, the former Nets coach who holds American citizenship but was born in Germany, where his father was stationed.