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Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich apparently bicker during Game 4 loss

May 28, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

The Spurs looked overwhelmed in their Game 4 loss to the Thunder, a rarity for this experienced San Antonio team.

Even more rare: Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich arguing – and that seemed to happen during the third quarter last night.

These exchanges aren’t always as they appear. We don’t know what was said, but it sure looks like Duncan jawed with Popovich and then Danny Green about defensive confusion.

The situation only got worse for San Antonio. Coming out of that timeout, the Thunder extended what had been a 4-1 run into a 14-1 run. At least the Spurs showed no further signs of dissension as they played out the ugly loss.

After the game, Popovich was asked about the incident with Duncan. Via ASAP Sports:

Q.  The miscommunication that you had with Tim Duncan, what was that about, and also, were you happy with the way that your bench competed physically against them?

GREGG POPOVICH:  I just said I was disappointed in our physicality.

Q.  And the miscommunication between you and Duncan on the bench?

GREGG POPOVICH:  I don’t know what you’re talking about.  What do you mean miscommunication?

Q.  It looked like he was going back and forth, arguing with what appeared to be you or someone else.

GREGG POPOVICH:  I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

Popovich has coached Duncan for 17 years. I doubt this is the first time they didn’t see eye-to-eye. That they couldn’t keep bottle their issues until the cameras were off, though, suggests this dispute was a little more meaningful than others.

That said, I’d be shocked if one disagreement during the heat of competition – in the midst of an ugly loss, no less – cracks that 17-year base they have together.

  1. robigd - May 28, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Tim: We breathe on RW and he goes to the line

    Pop: I know Timmy, just hang in there

    Tim: No, Gregg. This is crazy. We are getting murdered with no calls while these guys are living at the line

    Pop: We will get some home cookin’ on Thursday, don’t worry Timmy

    Danny: Calm down Tim

    Tim: Danny, you should keep your mouth shut. Your purpose on this team is to play defense and hit 3’s that don’t require the basketball to touch the floor.

    Danny: I know, I’m sorry Timmy

    Tim: My friends call me Timmy. Call me Tim. Danny, when you try to take someone off the dribble to create offense for yourself, it not only makes your teammates and coaching staff cringe, but the rest of the world who is tuned into the game.

    Danny: I’m sorry Tim.

    Tim: Thanks for calling me Tim. Just stay in the corner and we will pass you the ball. If you hesitate, we will cut you for the 3rd time.

    Danny: Yes sir

  2. azarkhan - May 28, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Nothing can break the bond between Popovich and Duncan. Popovich will be there for Duncan’s induction into the Hall of Fame. He’ll also be there for Parker and Ginobili.

  3. finsfan71 - May 28, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    It was a turd of a question. Pop properly flushed it away. In the video it appears they are communicating just fine.

    • sportsfan18 - May 28, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      WHY was it a turd of a question? Was it about his wife? His family?

      NO, it was ABOUT the game. He asked it nicely too.

      The reporter would NOT be doing his job if he did NOT ask…

      And, what IF and think about this, what IF Pop had answered it truthfully?

      Would have been great for that reporter and all of us.

      POP IS absolutely the best at what he does… but I still wish we had more communication from coaches…

      More Belichick’s or More Old Ball Coach from S. Carolina?

      I’ll take a lot more Steve Spurriers’ than of the other types of coaches that don’t open up…

      I mean who didn’t love it when he coached at Florida and would tease the Tenn Vols and say you can’t spell “Citrus” without “U” & “T”?

      So many ways Pop could have answered that reporter.

      What were you two disagreeing about coach?

      Timmy didn’t want to go to the same restaurant I did after the game.

      Or Pop could have said they were role playing to see if the reporters were paying attention and then he could have congratulated the reporter for noticing their little acting skit…

      Hell, it IS all entertainment after all…

      • ProBasketballPundit - May 28, 2014 at 8:40 PM

        Because it’s not Popovich’s job to review his team’s performance for the national TV audience. That’s what color commentators are for. Popovich responds to specific questions not cliched generalized BS.

  4. ravenswhat - May 28, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    The wheels are coming off in San Antonio. It was only a matter of time before their age showed against the younger, more physically gifted Thunder. It’s pretty obvious the Thunder will advance at this point.

    • spursareold - May 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      Everyone held serve.

      You’ll be amazed that the first time RW swipes at the ball Thursday, he’ll be called for a foul. The second time, too.

      • azarkhan - May 28, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        So you’re saying the Spurs need help from the officials to beat OKC. Not a good sign for the Spurs.

      • robigd - May 28, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        @azarkhan, its just a fact of the modern day NBA.

        Series free throw discrepancies. It’s not a coincidence anymore.

        Games in SA:
        OKC – 32/40
        SA – 26/33

        Games in OKC:
        OKC – 50/62
        SA – 32/38

      • azarkhan - May 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        @robigd, I prefer Coach Pops explanation: “The disparity in free throws really shows a (lack) of aggressiveness,” he said. “That’s what I told my team.”

  5. papichulo55 - May 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    The NBA has become so star-oriented that it is news to see a player of Tim Duncan’s stature being coached, in realtime no less. The reporter sounded young, and probably doesn’t remember watching Red Auerbach, or Hubie Brown. I understand the question, in today’s NBA culture. And I love Coach Pops old-school response!

  6. marcusfitzhugh - May 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    It was a stupid question and this is a stupid article. Of course Duncan and Pop looked upset. Should they have been giving each other high – fives and smiling? No one knows what was said, whether they were arguing or if they were even in disagreement. The only thing we know is SA lost and as expected, they weren’t happy to lose. BIG STORY I guess.

    • sportsfan18 - May 28, 2014 at 2:26 PM


      you know, YOU said it in your OWN words… read your own words carefully and I quote…

      “The only thing we know is SA lost and as expected, they weren’t happy to lose. ”

      You’re right, they lost and we KNOW they weren’t happy about it.

      THAT is why the reporter was asking him about it… so we would know MORE than what you correctly pointed out, “the ONLY thing we know is SA lost and… they weren’t happy to lose”

      SHOULD the reporter have asked about something we all KNOW already? Like what you mentioned?

      Or should the reporter have asked something different, that we did NOT know? Like he did, even though Pop dodged his question…

      Nope, the reporter knew POP and the Spurs weren’t happy to lose so he didn’t ask them about that. Instead he asked about something specific during the game in the 3rd quarter.

      I’m sure many fans watching noticed and some thought “I wonder what they’re arguing about?”

      This reporter tried to get that info for fans is all…

  7. Silver and Black attack - May 28, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Same old spurs…Pop always surrounds himself with a bunch of “well mannered” European players that don’t talk back and are deathly afraid of him, and they look like world beaters in the regular season..but when the playoffs roll around and it gets physical and the intensity goes up, those guys disappear.

    No telling how many titles he would have won had he cut back on the Euro guys and just settled for some good ballers.

    • Kurt Helin - May 28, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      They have four rings in this era, that’s not good enough for you? that’s some unreasonable standards, right there.

  8. bigmeechy74 - May 28, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    ha. I placed a bet a couple months ago that the spurs would win the west. I thought it was in the bag. I shouldve known. I NEVER win anything. They are DEAD. The thunder will win 4-2

  9. urodaddy07 - May 28, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    This is not a story

  10. eugenesaxe1 - May 28, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    Funny how people are saying SA is done. Seems to me they won the first 2 games of the series easily enough. But nooooo, they lose 2 in OKC and it’s time to call the mortuary.

  11. terrence1922 - May 30, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Some of you individuals make me laugh. You were all going oh yeah San Antonio’s got this. Then you go “Alright OKC is gonna take it”. Now some of you are back on the Spurs bandwagon. Lmmfaoo.
    You dudes sway wherever the wind blows. You guys are hilarious.

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