Spurs announce that Gregg Popovich's wife Erin Popovich has died

Jason Owens

The San Antonio Spurs announced on Wednesday that Erin Popovich, wife of head coach Gregg Popovich, has died.

The team did not announce details about the circumstances of her death. The two were married for four decades and had two children together.

ESPN reports that she had been sick for a while.

In 2012, Popovich credited his wife for encouraging him to improve his notoriously grumpy attitude toward sideline reporters in an interview with “The Dan Lebatard Show with Stugotz.”

Why he makes things so tough on courtside reporters:

“I know. I’m a jerk. I’m going to go ahead and admit it publicly to the whole world. Tell me what to do. What should I do? The quarter ends, you just got outscored by 12 points, they had eight offensive rebounds so the question will be ‘you just got outrebounded by X amount so what are you going to do about it?’ I don’t know. Am I going to make a trade during the timeout? I don’t know. I’m going to do drills here for a while by the time the game starts, I don’t know. I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to go back to the bench and hope we play better. I don’t know how to answer so sue me for being stupid and not having the answers to the questions. (Host: Keep doing it, it’s entertaining.) It entertains everybody but my wife. When I get home and she says ‘geez why are you so mean? You’re a jerk, people hate you.’ I go I’m sorry honey, I have to do better next time.”

On being criticized by his wife when he gets home:

“And there’s no exaggeration. Did you see that guy honey? Did you see him? All you have to do is see him, and you know why I answered the way I did. (She says) ‘That’s no excuse, you’re a grown man. Show some maturity.’ I said ‘I can’t, I can’t do it.”

Popovich is a giant in the NBA, and the news made a big impact on a busy night of playoff coverage with three games on Wednesday. Cleveland star LeBron James, who has a relationship with Popovich after spending time on Team USA together at the Olympics, responded to Erin’s death on live TV after his Cavs beat the Indiana Pacers.

“Obviously I’m a huge Pop fan. I love Pop. That’s such a tragedy. My best wishes go to Pop and his family. That’s devastating news. It’s just a lot. The NBA family, we all stick together. I know we compete every night. When something like this happens, it puts everything in perspective.

I send my well wishes and my prayers up to the heavens above. I know the man above never makes a mistake, even when you sometimes have to ask why. That’s just terrible news. Best of luck to Pop, everybody in San Antonio, the whole Spurs family. That’s all I can say, Allie.”

TNT took some criticism for how the James interview was conducted and clarified later that sideline reporter Allie LaForce told James about the news before the cameras rolled and asked if he wanted to respond on TV.

The Golden State Warriors, who are facing Popovich’s Spurs in a playoff series, also learned about Erin’s death through the media. Kevin Durant was visibly upset upon hearing the news.

The Spurs will next play Thursday in Game 3 of their series against the Warriors.

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