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A coincidence in the timing of Gregg Popovich ejections

The Spurs head coach needs to be careful this week.

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

I was talking to my friend Matt who is an archivist, and he stated that there is no statistic that reveals ejections for NBA coaches. It is not as simple as typing “how many times has Gregg Popovich been ejected?” into a search engine, so Matt went through the box scores season by season to find the occasions in which Popovich has been asked to leave a game early for one reason or another. Here are the facts:

Eighteen ejections were found. Of these, six have taken place in the month of December, four directly between Christmas and New Year’s. What is it about this time of year that gets Pop’s blood boiling. Not too sure, but one thing’s certain. He hasn’t received an ejection, or even a singular technical foul.

Speaking of singular technical fouls, Pop doesn’t seem to understand that sometimes one is enough to get the point across. In at least ten of these instances, Pop received both technical fouls in the same moment.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a different side of the Spurs normally relaxed head coach.

  1. Feb. 28, 1999 vs. Utah Jazz. Ah, the first time Pop was sent packing. Coincidentally, this was the last time the Jazz beat the Spurs in San Antonio for more than a decade. There is also an interesting twist, Pop and Avery Johnson sat down that night and discussed the strategy that helped turn the flailing season around.

2. Dec. 26, 2000 vs. Houston Rockets.

3. Jan. 15, 2001 vs. New York Knicks. Pop’s ejection wasn’t the only coaching incident as Jeff van Gundy got a bloody eye . . . from his own player!

4. May 7, 2001 vs. Dallas Mavericks (in playoffs). Assistant coach Hank Egan talks to Antonio Daniels with Mike Budenholzer after Pop was ejected for protesting a flagrant foul call on Danny Ferry at the Alamodome. Click here and scroll to the second photo.

Mavericks v Spurs X

5. November 3, 2003 vs. Memphis Grizzlies. ESPN reported “Pop complained about a foul that wasn’t called against the Memphis Grizzlies and made contact with referee Tony Brown. That led to a one-game suspension and a $1,000 fine.”

6. Dec. 31, 2004 vs. LA Clippers. Read all about the night’s events from ESPN’s article.

7. Dec. 28, 2007 vs. Toronto Raptors Not only did Pop get booted, but Matt Bonner and Tim Duncan received technical fouls as well. Watch the video below and check the 4:50 mark.

8. April 2, 2010 vs. Orlando Magic. Ginobili went on fire for 43 points after Duncan sat with 3 fouls in the first quarter. Pop was sent out shortly thereafter.

9. Dec. 3, 2010 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves. Pop contests what he perceived as a travel and gets back-to-back technical fouls sending him to the locker room just before the end of the 3rd quarter.

10. Jan. 13, 2013 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves. There’s a great USA Today article here.

11. March 16, 2013 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers. Check the Pounding the Rock piece.

12. Dec. 9, 2014 vs. Utah Jazz. The Spurs coach made it as far as the 3rd quarter in game in which Parker was unable to play.

13. Jan. 17, 2014 vs. Portland Trail Blazers. Eighteen straight points from Ginobili sparked a comeback after Pop was ejected during a timeout.

14. Dec. 28, 2015 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves. Another instance where Pop got a double tech.

15. Jan. 17, 2017 vs. Denver Nuggets. Pop gets his money’s worth as he is ejected on consecutive technical fouls.

16. Nov. 2, 2017 vs. Golden State Warriors, both techs come on the same outburst.

17. November 27, 2017 vs. Dallas Mavericks. Article.

18. Feb. 28, 2018 vs. New Orleans Pelicans. Becoming all too common, Pop received two technical fouls in one moment.

Pop’s last ejection was 19 years to the day from his first ejection. Perhaps the generally serene coach has closed some loop in the space/time continuum. Otherwise, hold your breath on each poor call this week, and hope the refs aren’t as deliberately one-sided as they were in Houston.

Or else Pop may be watching the game from the locker room.