For the second time this week, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected. Wednesday’s tossing, though, was a bit unusual as it came just over a minute into the game.
Popovich was sent to the locker rooms just 1:03 into the Spurs’ contest against the Denver Nuggets after picking up two technical fouls following a timeout with his team trailing 5-0.
It’s unclear what Popovich said to earn the technicals, but he was not happy while arguing with referee Mark Ayotte during the timeout.
Elias Sports Bureau says that Popovich is the first coach to be ejected within the first two minutes of a game since the late Flip Saunders was excused early in a 2012 game (1:46 in) while head coach of the Washington Wizards.
The longest-tenured coach in the NBA has the Spurs playoff-bound again, but they are in a fight for seeding and now are a half game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder at 45-34 after going on to lose in a blowout, 113-85, to the Nuggets on Wednesday night. Securing the No. 7 seed, rather than No. 8, likely means avoiding the top-seeded Golden State Warriors, who moved two games up on the Nuggets with their Tuesday head-to-head win.
The stakes are high for the Spurs, and perhaps that’s why Popovich has been tossed twice already this week. In Sunday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, Pop was ejected in a tie game in the third quarter.
Despite the early ejection and big loss, Popovich still found a way to get some fun out of the situation, crashing Nuggets head coach Michael Malone’s postgame press conference.
“Somebody got thrown out in 63 seconds,” Malone said.
“Are you serious?!” a faux-incredulous Popovich responded. “That person, he must have hit somebody! Somebody get hit tonight? Somebody get cursed at or anything?”
“It’s part of the game in my book,” Malone said of cursing.
Popovich departed soon after, leaving reporters laughing in his wake.
Contributing: Associated Press.