Popovich rips 'ignorant' Texas order easing mask protocols


San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich sounded off in response to the impending repeal of a mask mandate in the Spurs' home state of Texas.

Popovich, who has spoken out several times on matters of social and racial justice in recent years, took aim at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday after he announced a plan to lift mask and other pandemic protocols in the Lone Star State.

Responding to the news prior to the Spurs' win over the Knicks in New York on Tuesday night, the veteran coach told reporters that Abbott's move to ease restrictions so soon was "mystifying," and added that the league and its teams would continue to observe their own measures.

"Honestly, I'm pretty worried about the people in our state," Popovich said. "That's a pretty mystifying decision, considering the situation that we're all in. But as far as the players go, we listen to the NBA, not Governor Abbott."

Ditching masks too soon would be a mistake, Popovich said, warning of a possible resurgence of the virus.

"As I said, it's a mystifying decision," he said. "I think it puts a lot of small businesses in a tough spot. They're trying to do a good job of trying to keep everybody safe -- of course, they want to open up. But, getting rid of masks just seems ignorant to me. You know, it's like we have to have instant gratification, we have to act like the pandemic is over. We already went through this once -- now we're going to go through it again?"

Now is not the time for a false sense of complacency, according to the five-time NBA champion.

“When all of a sudden we act like it's over with -- and all of the science tells us the opposite -- you're basically saying, 'You get infected and die? That's the way it goes. We have to open up!'"

A new executive order ending the mask mandate and allowing businesses to re-open at full capacity would go into effect on March 10, as part of a plan to "open Texas 100%," Abbott announced on Tuesday.