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Tim Duncan gets win as Spurs head coach with Gregg Popovich (personal business) out

Jack Baer

The Big Fundamental took over the big chair for the San Antonio Spurs, at least for one game.

Spurs legend Tim Duncan, who has worked as an assistant coach for the team this season, took over as head coach for Tuesday’s game due to a personal matter for Gregg Popovich.

Duncan’s energy as a coach roughly matched his energy as a player, calmly watching as his team secured a 104-103 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Duncan had previously stepped in as Spurs head coach, but only after Popovich was ejected from a game in November. Even then, it was hard to tell he was the actual head coach, as fellow assistant Becky Hammon and Will Hardy also handled duties usually reserved for the top job.

There was a somewhat similar dynamic at play on Tuesday, with Duncan telling reporters after the game it was a “coach by committee” with Hammon and Hardy.

Tim Duncan’s rise in the Spurs coaching staff

The Spurs hired the 43-year-old Duncan as an assistant coach last summer, three years after his retirement. It appears Duncan has shown himself quite capable in a coaching role, ascending to a position where he is Popovich’s top choice as a replacement in an interim role.

Pretty good for a guy who “doesn’t know a lick about coaching,” as Popovich joked before the season.

However, Duncan receiving the technical mantle of head coach means that Hammon will wait yet again to make history as the NBA’s first female head coach, even as she handles some of the duties.

Spurs head coach Tim Duncan. Imagine hearing that a year ago. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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