San Antonio- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was ejected from a local restaurant after receiving two quick technicals for arguing with the staff about errors on the establishment's wine list, sources say. Patrons who witnessed the outburst and ensuing technicals say that while Popovich was out of line in following waitstaff out onto the floor, the whistleblowers seemed to act more out of precedence than legitimate substance. Michael Petrezelli, 45, remarked that while no waiter likes to be overtly hassled, there was an air of righteousness, given the fact that Popovich generally seems to know what he's talking about most of the time. "I mean, when it comes to wine and fine dining, Popovich is kind of like Rickey Henderson arguing balls and strikes. You might have seen a called third strike, but if Rickey said it was a ball, it probably was." Added Petrezelli, "If Pop says your wine isn't of a particularly remarkable vintage, I mean, it probably isn't."
The restaurant, which asked to remain anonymous despite Popovich storming out into the crowded city streets and loudly berating it while standing on a nearby mailbox, claimed that while Popovich was of fairly substantial celebrity and clout, it stood by the officiating of its waitstaff. "I certainly can't fault Mr. Popovich for wanting to defend the delicate palates of his players and colleagues, but the education and work ethic instilled in our waiters and waitresses is of top flight priority to me." offered Nathaniel Grenovia, manager of the establishment.
Sources indicate that Popovich and several of his coaches and players, including Dejaun Blair and rookie forward Tiago Splitter, arrived at the restaurant at around 10:30PM local time, after a hard fought road win. Despite the prompt seating of the group, eyewitnesses indicate that Popovich seemed surly from the outset, though his attitude likely stemmed from his inability to prevent Splitter and Blair from using the complimentary bread to perform a variety of inappropriate jokes, and making eye goggles with their hands. Assistant Coach Mike Budenholzer was overheard threatening the duo with extra laps at practice, though he shortly thereafter was seen laughing at Splitter's attempts to make walrus tusks out of the appetizers.
Despite the pre-meal antics of his players lightening the mood of those around them in innocent and childlike ways, Popovich remained visibly discouraged at the waitstaff after they fumbled a wine order and presented Popovich with a bottle he had not ordered. Though the bottle, a 2007 Robert Mondavi Cabernet, was promptly returned, patrons disclosed that Popovich made several remarks about the relatively low stature of the wine in comparison to other options featured on the list. When what was seemingly the correct replacement arrived at the table Popovich was reported as "simply glaring at the waiter" by patron Marie Sinclair. "He gave the waiter this irate, steely-eyed gaze, then told the waiter that the wine he was holding wasn't a Pinot Noir, and that the swill he'd brought out might as well have been 'Grimace pee.' I remember Grimace. He used to scare my kids senseless whenever we went to McDonald's."
As the tension mounted, onlookers report that after yet another bottle was brought out for the group, Popovich suddenly lost his temper and began arguing with the waiter, telling him that he might as well have spent his money on a trailer home and a box of Franzia if he had known he was going to be "slumming it like this." Despite retorts from the waiter that the selection, a competent 1996 Cabernet from renowned vintners J. Lohr, was more than satisfactory, Popovich seemed intent on butting heads. Several witnesses corroborate that Popovich received his first technical from the acting Maitre D' after neither his assistants or players could restrain him from following the humiliated waiter to the kitchen. His second was issued immediately after he breached the kitchen doors.
Despite the relative professionalism Popovich often displays while yelling at people who are probably scared of him, neither Blair or Splitter can recall ever having seen Popovich this angry. "I mean, yeah." Blair explained. "There was that one time Timmy (Duncan, Spurs forward) beat him at Star Wars checkers. He pretty much lost it that time, but that was different." Added Splitter "Yeah, Pop is a controller smasher too." recalling the time that several Xbox controllers were lost during a rampage that started after Popovich was eaten by the shark several times in 'Banjo Kazooie'. Popovich did leave the premises in a relatively orderly and punctual manner however, stopping only twice, once to give the finger in the direction of a completely uninvolved member of the waitstaff, and a second time to grab a handful of Captain's Wafers before exiting to continue his tirade outside.
After Popovich had completely left the premises, the remaining coaches and players continued the meal without him, remarking that while the meal was pleasant, Popovich's expansive knowledge of cuisine and caustic sarcasm were sorely missed. "It's always tough without Pop." Budenholzer issued. "I mean, we're a tightly run ship, so we know what to do in the event, but the young guys tend to get a little errant towards the end of the evening." He said, pointing over his shoulder at Blair and Splitter, who had managed to procure enough breadsticks to construct a full Native American Headdress and scale replica of an AT-AT. Despite prodding from his rookie forward to look at what they made, Budenholzer added while rolling his eyes that "sometimes it's best if you just kind of play dead."
Popovich was summarily unavailable for comment. The Spurs currently hold the NBA's top record, with only a few games remaining in the regular season