Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says NBA bubble safest place to be

The 71-year-old sees the number of new cases rocketing upward in the state of Texas and feels the protected atmosphere near Orlando, Florida, is more comforting.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.   -  Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pondered sitting out the NBA restart before eventually deciding the NBA's “bubble” might be the best place to be during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 71-year-old sees the number of new cases rocketing upward in the state of Texas and feels the protected atmosphere near Orlando, Florida, is more comforting.

“I'm safer here than I would be in Texas for sure as you see what's going on there,” Popovich said on Saturday during a Zoom teleconference call.

The Lone Star State reported a single-day record 10,351 cases on Saturday as well as 99 deaths. And individuals 65 and older are at greater risk to contracting the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

So Popovich isn't second-guessing a decision that puts him in a controlled environment with constant testing.

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“Being 71 years old, I thought, 'Is this where I want to spend a lot of my time, doing this, under these circumstances?'” Popovich told reporters of his decision-making process. “'Do I really want to do this? Is it safe?' But I talked to a lot of people. I talked to (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver).

“You find out pretty quickly what he and his staff of many have gone through to put this thing together. It's not just being a loyal soldier in the NBA. But I don't know where else you would be as safe as we are right now. From an intellectual point of a view and a medical point of view, I would have to say I am safer here, if this bubble works.”

The Spurs (27-36) will be long shots to make the playoffs once the restart begins.

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San Antonio, which opens play against the Sacramento Kings on July 31, sits four games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies. Making matters worse is that seven-time All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is done for the season after surgery on his right shoulder in late April.

More than basketball is on Popovich's mind. He said he has spent a lot of time reading and dissecting where the United States as a country in the four months since play was halted due to the pandemic.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25 has ramped up attention to social justice issues and racism throughout the country and Popovich has been paying close attention.

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“Since the decision was made to do this, to start the season the season again under these circumstances with all the precautions, what a great opportunity to make race an upfront, most important activity that happens on a social level while we're here,” Popovich said. “People will enjoy the games and the athleticism and the losses and the wins and the excitement, but the message that the league wants to send is one of equality.

“And no injustice for anyone and making sure people have to think about it every day. Whether it's a coach or player speaking up, it's the momentum that we have to keep, and the league can be a great communicator for that.”

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