Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a point to ask his players to watch the first presidential debate between incumbent Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, going so far as to dispense DVD copies the following day.
There was no such homework assignment after Tuesday’s rematch, however, as the Spurs went home empty-handed. Popovich, an Obama contributor, also declined to give his thoughts on the matter.
“My opinions aren’t very important,” he said.
Popovich might have skipped the DVDs because his message sunk in. Boris Diaw, despite being unable to vote due to his French nationality, said he actually watched part of the debate.
* Popovich said Tim Duncan returned to work Wednesday after an undisclosed illness forced him to take a rare day off on Monday. Duncan might have passed on whatever he had to reserve guard Gary Neal, who stayed home on Wednesday, but Popovich wasn’t willing to speculate.
“What do I look like, Louis Pasteur?” he said when asked if a bug was sweeping through the team.
* The Spurs practice facility was swarming with a crew on hand to film one of the popular H-E-B spots starring Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
Judging by , Parker is playing some kind of club doorman – maybe a bad choice considering his experience last summer in New York? No matter – Diaw expects him to nail his latest role.
“He’s a great actor,” Diaw said. “The best French actor since…who do you guys know? Gerard Depardeu. And the guy who got the Oscar. The Artist. Dujardin. Jean Dujardin. He got the Oscar in front of every American actor. That was pretty good.”
* Even though it won’t matter, Popovich said he’ll use Saturday’s preseason game at Miami as a measuring stick.
“It’s a championship team, a championship program,” he said. “You play a team like that, you get some questions answered. I’m looking forward to it.”
* Popovich also said he’s looking forward to the second leg of the Spurs’ two-day road trip to Florida, where they’ll face former Spurs assistant Jacque Vaughn in his new gig as Orlando’s head coach.
“In the preseason it’s great fun,” he said. “In the regular season we’ll be trying to beat each other’s brains in, probably after having dinner the night before. We’ll have a lot of fun with that, maybe try to screw with him, just for kicks.”
Vaughn could probably use some good advice instead; the Magic are 0-4 in the preseason.
* Popovich contrasted the presence of rookie assistant coach Ime Udoka with that of the departed Don Newman, who left to take the lead assistant role in Washington.
“Ime is going to be wonderful,” he said. “He really commands respect from the guys. The kind of professionalism he had as a player extends to what he’s trying to do now as a coach.”
Perhaps Udoka can also fill Newman’s role preventing Popovich from tearing onto the court after bad calls – although that job might be easier to fill.
“He didn’t have to work very hard at that because I rarely get (technical fouls),” Popovich joked. “He just acted like he was holding me back all the time. It was like a game.”
* Backup point guard Patty Mills (ankle) participated in non-contract drills.