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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich surprised Suns owner Robert Sarver didn’t give address ‘in a chicken suit’

Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver was visibly unhappy as he took the public address mic and addressed fans at US Airways Center on Thursday night while his team faced the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs were missing a majority of their most recognizable talent as well as their head coach, and Sarver implicitly called the visiting team out late in the fourth quarter while offering fans a gift in exchange for “the game (they) paid their hard-earned money to watch.”

It was only a preseason matchup, but not only did stars like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard not even take the floor, they weren’t even in the building.

The Suns made mincemeat of a shorthanded San Antonio squad, winning the exhibition 121-90.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich responded Saturday to being indirectly called out by the Suns’ managing partner, a move which drew national attention.

“As I said, the silliness begins,” the reigning NBA Coach of the Year told The San Antonio Express-News. “Most wise individuals would check facts before they made statements. Unless you’re interested in putting on a show. In that case, the facts get in your way, as in this case.”

But the five-time champion coach didn’t stop there during an interview at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, explaining why some players were absent while also firing another shot back at the Suns owner.

“We had five guys we didn’t send. Patty Mills had a shoulder operation over the summer. Tiago Splitter (calf) has been out the whole preseason. Kawhi Leonard (eye infection) was out and is still out for 10 more days. The other two, Duncan and Ginobili, are two of the oldest guys in the league who just came back from a 13-day European trip.

“The only thing that surprises me is that he didn’t say it in a chicken suit. I’ll just leave it at that.”

CBS Sports points out that the “chicken suit” remark might trace back to a game that took place between the two teams nearly a decade ago.

This dates back to a 2005 incident between the Suns and Spurs. When Popovich held Duncan and Ginobili out of a regular season game in 2005, Sarver mocked the Spurs’ bench by flapping his arms like a chicken. The Suns ended up winning that game 107-101 in overtime as Amar’e Stoudemire feasted on the Duncan-less Spurs for 44 points.

Looks like the only way to settle this war of words will be on the court. The Suns and Spurs will face each other four times in the regular season, with the first meeting coming on Halloween night at US Airways Center. San Antonio went 3-1 in four meetings with the Suns last season, with the Spurs’ three wins coming by a combined 18 points; Phoenix’s lone victory over San Antonio last year came by a 21-point margin.