SAN ANTONIO – Two of greatest players in Spurs franchise history, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and the organization's longtime general manager, RC Buford, shared poignant, heartfelt thoughts and became emotional when speaking about the death of Erin Popovich, the wife of head coach Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs announced Wednesday in a team statement that Erin Popovich had died at the age of 67.
The team held shootaround Thursday ahead of Game 3 of the Spurs' playoff series against the Warriors.
Ginobili said he knew Erin, the Popoviches children and grandchildren well.
“We are all devastated, we are hurting," said Ginobili. "We all know the type of guy Pop is, not many people know the type of gal Erin was, so it’s painful."
Manu Ginobili became emotional today when discussing the death of Erin Popovich, the wife of Gregg Popovich..."We are all devastated, all hurting." Manu ends by saying "not having him (Pop) here today is hard." (vid via @markmendez ) #KSATnews #KSATsports #Spurs #NBA pic.twitter.com/gGtX6ATDhK— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 19, 2018
"She was a great lady, great lady,” said Parker. “Showed a lot of love. She was unbelievable."
Parker said the news hit him hard. He was 19-years-old when he came to San Antonio to play with the Spurs, and looked at Gregg and Erin Popovich as parental figures. Parker said he was at the Popoviches home on Wednesday night.
"I had an opportunity to see him in a different way because I have been here for so long. To be with him last night and share those moments with his family was very emotional," said Parker.
Tony Parker shared heartfelt thoughts on Erin Popovich. Parker said he was with the Popovich family last night, sees both as parental figures..."to be with him at his house and share those moments with his family was very emotional" (vid via @markmendez) #KSATnews #Spurs pic.twitter.com/PQ2oZWbdBC— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 19, 2018
Buford said he spoke to Popovich Thursday morning and the Spurs head coach said he was overwhelmed by support, appreciation and love that has been shared with him and Erin’s family.
"We are all suffering a profound loss to a really important member of our family and our team. Erin and Gregg were best friends who were together for 40 years,” said Buford. "Erin’s impact and influence on our organization and our families, on our players and their families will be felt for years to come."
The Popoviches have two children and two grandchildren. They met at the Air Force Academy in the 1970s when he was an assistant coach for the Falcons. Erin's father, Jim Conboy, was Air Force's head athletic trainer.
Popovich has coached San Antonio since 1996, leading the Spurs to five NBA titles.
Buford added that Popovich told him he wanted the focus to be on basketball. The Spurs announced lead assistant Ettore Messina would coach the team Thursday night against the Warriors.
“When the time comes to play, I’m pretty sure we’ll go out and compete and respect what he always praises and tries to communicate," Ginobili said. "But not having him with us, not having him here today is hard."