San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has and will continue to don a mask in the Orlando, Fla., bubble so long as the team competes in the NBA restart at the Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The NBA is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of everyone involved in its resumption of play scheduled for July 30. Being 71 years old, however, puts Popovich at a high risk for severe, potentially even fatal, complications should he contract COVID-19.
Appearing Monday night on NBA on TNT’s “The Arena,” Popovich explained his decision to wear a mask despite the league having the strictest protocols in place that provide the safest environment possible in the bubble.
“It behooves each of us who might be a little bit older to take it very seriously,” Popovich said. “I don’t want to die.”
Said Popovich, per news4santonio.com: “I wear my mask all the time. I wear my mask in practice and I only take it off when I got something to say.”
Popovich is among the most outspoken members of the NBA community — coach, player or otherwise — and the fiery head coach has continued with that approach amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Just last week, Popovich bashed Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, calling them “cowards” for their uneven response to the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in the state.
The five-time NBA champion coach also recently teamed with San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg on a PSA about the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
As the NBA deliberated in recent months over how to best go about resuming play, there was speculation that older members of coaching staffs — including the likes of Popovich and Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni — may be excluded from the restart due to their high-risk status as laid out in CDC guidelines.
Things obviously were worked out on that front, and now that he’s in Orlando, Popovich will understandably exercise extreme caution in the interest of his own health.