If you like hypotheticals, play around with this one:
What if Gregg Popovich had to walk away from the Spurs in the middle of last season?
So many questions come up, from how the Spurs perform through the playoffs to does Tim Duncan come back? Or does LaMarcus Aldridge come at all?
Popovich missed a couple games of Spurs’ games last November with no real reason given. Turns out it was a heart condition. Legendary coach Larry Brown talked about it with Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News.
His hip surgery had gone well, but there was a hiccup with a heart condition that was not unlike the atrial fibrillation that Fab Oberto had. Popovich underwent a procedure, and, after he had done everything the doctors had asked, palpitations returned.
Brown says the episode occurred during the preseason tour in Europe. That eventually culminated with Popovich missing two games in late November for a second procedure.
“I really believe he was close to retiring then,” Brown said.
For his sake, I am happy the second procedure worked. Also I’m happy for selfish reasons — the Spurs and the NBA will not be quite the same without Popovich. He can move on, he has other interests and likes to say he is not an NBA lifer — Pop is not Tom Thibodeau. Popovich has other interests. But we will miss him.
Fortunately, we’re probably four years from finding out what the league will be like without him, that’s how long Popovich has left on his contract. He has said he intends to coach until the end of it, and there’s little chance Aldridge comes to San Antonio without that commitment.
That he was healthy enough to make that commitment — and that he is heading to Africa to coach in an NBA exhibition game there next month — is a sign everything is back to normal.