Maybe it was just a simple free throw shooting game to wind down from a successful San Antonio Spurs scrimmage game. Or maybe it was something more -- but Gregg Popovich has never been known to do things for no reason.
After four quarters of a running-clock scrimmage game to welcome fans back to the AT&T Center, Popovich called Keldon Johnson to the free throw line. He proceeded to bury two. Since the players were lined up on the baseline during, scrimmage commentators Bill Land and Dan Weiss suspected a miss would result in sprints. Derrick White, perhaps the leader of the squad heading into this season, then nailed two of his own -- effectively saving the team from the extra running.
Then Coach Pop called on the rookie. Almost immediately, chants of "Primo" rang throughout the AT&T Center. "When you come out and do what he did in a preseason game, he becomes a fan favorite," said Land. Joshua Primo's first shot barely trickled over the rim and went in. The second one was a perfect swish. Whatever the test was, Primo had passed.
After the first preseason game against the Utah Jazz, Primo stated he had never played in front of a crowd like that before. There will be plenty more where that came from for the teenager. There will be nights on the road where the entire crowd is against him and rooting for his failures. There will be others where they're all chanting his name. Coach Pop was just giving him a little taste.
Maybe it meant nothing that Popovich chose Primo to follow Johnson and White, but I doubt it. Whether or not he gets real minutes in San Antonio this season, I think this was a little nod from the coach that he knows he has something special.
As usual, fans might have to be patient in terms of expecting many minutes from Primo. While he wouldn't play much in the Alamo City, he'd have the chance to be the number one option on the Austin Spurs, who first play on November 5th.
Coach Popovich threw a quick pressure test onto his rookie in front of his fans and he responded. Something tells me that won't be the first time.