Gregg Popovich refused to dwell on the San Antonio Spurs missing the NBA playoffs for the first time in 23 years.

With the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns both winning their final regular-season games on Thursday, the Spurs were eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 1996-97.

San Antonio's fate was confirmed even before their 118-112 loss to the Utah Jazz at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Despite missing out on a play-in berth behind the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers and Grizzlies in the Western Conference, Spurs head coach Popovich looked to the future.

"It means a lot to a lot of people probably but I don't dwell on the past," said Popovich, who has led the Spurs to five NBA championship since replacing Bob Hill in 1996.

"That stuff's totally [not] important, what's important is the moment you do what you've got to do then you move on, but looking at the past doesn't do much good.

"Any success we've had has been because we've had some great players."

San Antonio had won three consecutive games prior to falling to the Jazz inside the Orlando bubble – the Spurs ending their coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign with a 32-39 record.

Popovich added: "I'm more excited about this than anything you guys are talking about right now, successes or non-successes, because the success for streaks or whatever the hell you're talking about ended.

"I could care less about that. I'm thrilled at the way they played here."

"They had no shot to get into this thing and basically willed themselves into it to have this opportunity," the 71-year-old continued. "The development of the young kids largely playing the way they did, this is the best we've played all year. I've really enjoyed it."

The San Antonio Spurs will not feature in the NBA playoffs for the first time in 23 years.

With the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns both winning their final regular-season games on Thursday, the Spurs were eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 1996-97.

It ended San Antonio's record-tying run of 22 consecutive playoff appearances before their clash with the Utah Jazz in the race for a Western Conference play-in spot at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Spurs held a 32-38 record heading into their final game of the season against the Jazz in Orlando, behind the eighth-placed Grizzlies (34-39), Portland Trail Blazers (34-39) and Suns (34-39).

With five championships since arriving at the Spurs in 1996, Gregg Popovich – one of the most successful head coaches in the league's history – has brought annual consistency to San Antonio.

The last time the Spurs missed the playoffs, Popovich stepped up from his role as general manager and replaced Bob Hill, who was fired after 18 games in 1996.

Gregg Popovich likened Nikola Jokic to a "reincarnation of Larry Bird" after he played a huge part in the Denver Nuggets' 132-126 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Michael Porter Jr became the first Nuggets rookie to score 30 points or more and at least 10 rebounds in back-to-back games as his side move to 45-23 on Wednesday, hot on the heels of the second-placed LA Clippers in the West.

Porter poured in 30 points and provided 15 assists, but it was the performance of giant center Jokic that stood out for Spurs coach Popovich.

The Serbian landed 25 points, laid on 11 assists and grabbed four rebounds – three on offensive glass – and Popovich drew comparisons with Boston Celtics legend Bird.

He said: "Porter is a fine young talent. And Jokic, he's like a reincarnation of Larry Bird. He does everything. He's amazing. They were great."

Popovich said there was little his younger Spurs players could have done to stop Jokic from being so influential.

He added: "They've never seen anything like that,.

"He's stepping out and making threes. He's rebounding the ball, there should be an NBA rule, you can't tap it to yourself. He's Moses Malone.

"He's down there and he jumps about a quarter of an inch, then he taps it two or three times and then he gets it and he lays it back in.

"It's not just luck. He does it all the time. He is great on the board, he's obviously maybe the best big man passer in the league. If not, then close to it. He's a pretty special player."

Jonathan Isaac opted not to wear a 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirt or kneel for the anthem prior to the Orlando Magic's NBA game against the Brooklyn Nets, saying he did not think such acts were "the answer".

The 2019-20 NBA season resumed on Thursday in Florida and players have been wearing 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirts and taking a knee for the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

However, while the rest of his Magic team-mates knelt and wore those t-shirts prior to tip-off against the Nets on Friday, Isaac remained standing in his Orlando jersey.

"I believe that black lives matter," the forward told reporters after Orlando's 128-111 win.

"A lot went into my decision and part of it is my thought that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt don't go hand in hand with supporting black lives.

"And so I felt like, just me personally and what it is that I believe in, standing on a stance that I do believe that black lives matter, but I just felt like it was a decision that I had to make and I didn't feel like putting that shirt on went hand in hand with supporting black lives."

Isaac, who became an ordained minister in March, added: "I don't think that kneeling or putting on a t-shirt for me, personally, is the answer.

"I feel like for me black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel. That we all have things that we do wrong and sometimes it gets into a place of pointing fingers about which wrong is worse."

Later on Friday, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon also stood for the anthem, though both were wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirts.

Popovich has frequently spoken out about racial injustice in the past and Spurs star DeMar DeRozan urged others not to "vilify" those who did not kneel.

"Don't take away nothing from those guys," he said.

"You know Pop speaks out. When it comes to Becky, she's been [on the] front line, fighting for equality since I've been a fan of hers playing in the WNBA.

"So everybody has their own right of making a statement and you can't vilify nobody for not doing what the other group is doing. I'm all for it."

Asked why he had not knelt, Popovich replied: "I prefer to keep that to myself.

"Everybody has to make a personal decision. The league has been great about that. Everybody has the freedom to react any way that they want. For whatever reasons that I have, I reacted the way I wanted to."

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he is "embarrassed as a white person" that George Floyd could die in police custody in such a "nonchalant…casual" manner. 

The Spurs, one of the last NBA teams to issue an official reaction to Floyd's death and ensuing protests against racial injustice, released a series of videos on Twitter, including one from Popovich. 

Floyd, an African American, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 when an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

"It has got to be us, in my opinion, that speak truth to power and that call it out no matter what the consequences," Popovich said. 

"We have to speak. We have to not let anything go."

While the series of videos is the first official response from the franchise, Popovich had previously provided scathing comments about Donald Trump to The Nation, calling the president "deranged" and "a destroyer".

 Popovich added in the video before an emotional pause. "I think I'm just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen – to actually watch a lynching."

The 24th-year coach concluded that white people need to do a better job, saying, "We have to do it because black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years. 

"The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence, patience and effort of black people. 

"It's easy for people to let things go because it doesn't involve them. Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race."

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joined the chorus of prominent voices in sport to speak up after nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice erupted following the death of George Floyd.  

Popovich, in his 24th year coaching the Spurs, pointed to a lack of leadership as a reason for an apparent decline in race relations in the United States.

"The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we've seen it all before but nothing changes," Popovich told The Nation.

"That's why these protests have been so explosive. But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change.  

"And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it's been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change."

The five-time NBA champion coach, who has previously been critical of President Donald Trump, blasted the White House's response to the protests.  

"It's unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 per cent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn't care about bringing people together. Even now," Popovich said.

"That's how deranged he is. It's all about him. It's all about what benefits him personally. It's never about the greater good. And that's all he's ever been."

"It's so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that 'Black Lives Matter.' Just say those three words. But he won't and he can't. He can’t because it's more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity. 

"He's not just divisive. He's a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die. He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I'm appalled that we have a leader who can't say 'Black Lives Matter.' That's why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward. He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler."

Popovich also criticised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and called him "the person who really runs the country". 

While Popovich's disdain for the Trump administration has been well known, his statements to The Nation are his strongest to date.  

"It's more than just Trump. The system has to change," he said. "I'll do whatever I can do to help because that's what leaders do. But he can't do anything to put us on a positive path because he's not a leader."

Ben Stokes must have endured nightmares over this day four years ago, when Carlos Brathwaite smashed West Indies to T20 World Cup glory in such dramatic fashion.

Gregg Popovich also has bad memories of April 3, having been ejected only 63 seconds into the San Antonio Spurs' NBA clash with the Denver Nuggets last year.

Lionel Messi scored two penalties when Barcelona beat Milan to reach the Champions League semi-finals on this day back in 2012.

We take a look back at April 3 in sporting history.

 

2016 - 'Remember the name' - Brathwaite goes berserk

Stokes has had plenty to celebrate in the past year, but the England all-rounder endured a horror show at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Windies all-rounder Brathwaite was the star of the show, blasting Stokes for four sixes off the first four balls of the final over to ensure his side became the first to win two World T20 titles.

Commentator and former West Indies bowler Ian Bishop belted out "remember the name" when Brathwaite sealed a stunning victory, having needed 19 off the final over.

While Stokes has gone on to better things, he will certainly not have forgotten the name of Brathwaite. 

 

2019 - Off you pop

Some spectators may not have taken their seats when Spurs coach Popovich was given his marching orders 12 months ago.

He took exception to a non-foul call and was issued a technical by official Mark Ayotte before being handed another by David Guthrie just over a minute after tip-off in an encounter with Denver.

The Nuggets went on to win 113-85 three nights after Popovich was also ejected during a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

2012 - Milestone for Messi as Milan crash out

There have been many days when Messi achieved a milestone and his half-century of Champions League goals came eight years ago to the day.

The Barcelona superstar made no mistake from the penalty spot twice as the Catalan giants beat Milan 3-1 to reach the last four.

There were no goals in the first leg at San Siro, but Messi proved to the match-winner, with Andres Iniesta netting the third. Chelsea ended Barca's run at the semi-final stage, though, winning 3-2 on aggregate.

United States head coach Gregg Popovich is committed to leading Team USA in 2021 after the Olympic Games were postponed due to coronavirus.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the postponement of Tokyo 2020 on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's Games were scheduled to get underway on July 24, but the spread of coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the globe.

However, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said San Antonio Spurs coach Popovich remains committed.

"The commitments everyone made for 2020 are still there; we're all-in and we're committed," Colangelo told ESPN.

"It's important to deal with the unknowns and this virus. This too shall pass, and we'll be back for everyone's well-being."

The rescheduling of the Olympics could impact the NBA, which is already on hiatus.

"We will follow the leader. We have to wait to see how everything is laid out and we'll make the adjustment," Colangelo said. "Our players are NBA players first, let's face that."

Colangelo added: "Changing the window for the NBA is easier said than done. There's a lot of logistics and contracts to deal with. Same for the Olympics. You have to assume it will be around the same dates."

Globally, more than 18,800 people have died from coronavirus, with over 421,360 confirmed cases.

United States assistant Steve Kerr said he and head coach Gregg Popovich are still planning for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 continues to disrupt sport across the globe as countries impose strict travel conditions amid the emergency, however, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) remains adamant Tokyo 2020 will go ahead as planned in July.

The NBA has suspended the season indefinitely after a number of players tested positive for coronavirus.

Golden State Warriors head coach Kerr said Team USA staff are planning as if the Olympic Games will go ahead amid the uncertainty.

"Pop and I have spoken a couple of times over the last week or so," Kerr told reporters on Tuesday. "Everything's just up in the air.

"There's no sense of whether things are going to be delayed or anything. We're all kind of sitting here wondering what's going to happen and so is the rest of the world.

"We're just going to plan as if this is going to happen and we're going to try and put together a roster and that's all we can do."

Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were the first NBA players to contract COVID-19, while Kevin Durant joined the list on Tuesday.

Durant confirmed he is one of four Brooklyn Nets players to test positive for coronavirus, with the NBA on hiatus.

The Milwaukee Bucks were leading the league before it was postponed, with LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers topping the Western Conference.

"To be honest I feel really sorry for the teams [that] are really in the thick of the race and the hunt," Kerr said. "The teams that have a chance to make a run.

"We're not in that position this year and so being in limbo, even though it's no fun, for us we're just sort of waiting to hear what the league has to say and we'll follow instructions, but it must be incredibly frustrating for all those teams that have a shot this year and they're wondering if things are even got to start back up again."

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he only wants a fit and healthy Kevin Durant for the United States at the Olympic Games.

Durant swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, but the 31-year-old superstar is yet to play this season as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury.

He tore his Achilles tendon against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals in June, but his business partner Rich Kleiman said playing at Tokyo 2020 was "definitely a possibility".

However, USA coach Popovich insisted he does not want two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Durant to rush his comeback just for the Olympics.

"My feeling on that is that I would want Kevin to be absolutely ready to go, working out, playing five-on-five, that his organisation and he both feel like it's time to play," Popovich said.

"I wouldn't want to be any part of him being 60 per cent or 70 per cent and just starting to get in shape because of the Olympics. The Olympics are important, it's huge, but he's got a career to take care of here with the Nets.

"I would rather have him do that if he's not totally ready to play this summer."

The men's basketball at the Olympics gets underway on July 25 in Tokyo.

USA head to Japan as defending champions, having won gold at the past three Olympics.

Tim Duncan will coach the San Antonio Spurs against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday as Gregg Popovich misses due to "personal business".

An NBA great with the Spurs, Duncan returned to San Antonio as an assistant coach ahead of this season.

He will lead the Spurs against the Hornets at the Spectrum Center, the team announced.

"Gregg Popovich will miss tonight's Spurs-Hornets game due to personal business," the Spurs wrote on Twitter.

"Tim Duncan will serve as the Spurs head coach tonight in place of Pop."

San Antonio (25-34) are 12th in the Western Conference, while the Hornets (21-39) have also struggled this season.

Duncan spent the entirety of his playing career with the Spurs, winning five championships and two MVP awards.

Gregg Popovich shared a "deep sense of loss" and Doc Rivers battled tears as two of the NBA's most recognisable coaches addressed Kobe Bryant's death.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed their deaths after the news was initially reported by American outlet TMZ.

Nine people were believed to have been killed in the incident, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced. There were no survivors.

The San Antonio Spurs were among the first teams to take to the court after the news emerged and head coach Popovich said their sorrow would stretch far and wide.

"Everybody's pretty emotional about the tragedy with Kobe," Popovich told reporters after a 110-106 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

"All of us know what a great player he was, but he went beyond great playing. He was a competitor that goes unmatched. It's what made him as a player so attractive to everybody, that focus, that competitiveness, that will to win.

"Even more importantly than that, we all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us, in so many ways. So many millions of people loved him for so many different reasons. It's just a tragic thing.

"We all think about the family and the process they're going to be going through right now. That's where our thoughts should be."

Los Angeles Clippers coach Rivers retired from playing the season before Bryant debuted and struggled through an emotional news conference prior to his team's game against the Orlando Magic.

"The news is just devastating to everybody who knew him a long time," he said. "He means a lot to me, obviously. He was such a great opponent. It's what you want in sports.

"He had that DNA that very few athletes can ever have. I was getting to know him more since he retired. This is a tough one.

"The news is just devastating for [wife] Vanessa and his family. So many people he touched. Looking at my young players and how emotional they are, they didn't know him and that tells you how far his reach was."

Luka Doncic shone on his comeback from injury and Gregg Popovich likened the Dallas Mavericks star to NBA great Magic Johnson.

After sitting out four games with an ankle problem, Doncic marked his return to the floor with 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as the Mavs beat the San Antonio Spurs 102-98 on Thursday.

Spurs coach Popovich branded the Slovenian – who had a 42-point triple-double when the teams last met – a "beast" in a TV interview after he scored half of Dallas' 20 first-quarter points.

The five-time NBA championship-winning coach was even more effusive in his praise at the conclusion of the game.

"I hate to say this: he's not Magic Johnson, but it's Magic Johnson-like in the sense that he sees the floor in that same way," said Popovich.

"He's got a real intuitive sense, and you can't teach that. He's just got it and he's great at it.

"I'm not trying to put the Magic Johnson pressure on him – he's not ready for that yet – but he's doing a hell of a job."

After missing out on All-Star selection in his rookie season, Doncic said he hopes to make the grade this time around. However, he is focused on getting back up to speed after experiencing fatigue towards the end of his 33 minutes on the floor.

"I'm not going to lie I was pretty tired going to the end of the game," said Doncic.

"It's difficult when you're out like four or five games, you've gotta catch up and [I'm] just gonna get better.

"[The ankle is] good. I'm gonna keep icing it and the bandage on it – it's good.

"I just want to play, I don't want to miss any games. But I got some rest too and I'll just keep going."

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich criticised the New York Knicks' decision to sack David Fizdale.

The struggling Knicks parted with coach Fizdale on Friday following a run of eight consecutive defeats and a conference-worst 4-18 record in the NBA this season.

Fizdale – replaced by assistant Mike Miller on an interim basis – was appointed in 2018 and oversaw 21 wins and 83 losses during his tenure in New York.

Responding to Fizdale's departure, five-time champion Popovich slammed the Knicks.

"I don't know where the decision was made to fire coach Fizdale, but if it came from the top, it's a case of mistaken identity," Popovich said via NBA.com.

"He's a fine, talented young coach with a great pedigree, and it's ridiculous to think you're gonna bring a young guy in and after being there a minute and a half, you expect him to fix everything that's been wrong there for a long time.

"That's pretty unfair. So, it's the old analogy: he got thrown under the bus. He'll come out of it because he's a great coach."

Gregg Popovich cut a frustrated figure as he reflected on yet another defeat for the San Antonio Spurs, whose losing streak now stretches to seven games.

The Spurs went down 138-132 to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday and have not endured such a torrid run of form since the 1996-97 season.

It left coach Popovich in no mood to get too deep into analysis as he summed it up with some simple logical reasoning.

"All in all, if you score 132 points, you should probably have a pretty good chance to win a game," he said.

"The bad news is, if you give up 138, you are not going to win.

"I'm a really smart guy. I'm figuring that's logical. I could be wrong. There's not much else to say."

DeMar DeRozan struck an even more downbeat tone than his boss, despite his own contribution of 31 points. 

"Every single game we've lost feels worse than the last game," said the four-time NBA All-Star.

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