For many, “funny” is not the word that comes to mind when describing San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. The winningest coach in NBA history has gained a reputation for his often sharp, almost always blunt answers and reactions to questions. But following Devonte' Graham's game-winner in Friday's 121-120 victory vs. the defending champion Denver Nuggets, the legendary coach mixed in the humor he'll sometimes flash with the media.

“He’s better than [Steve] Kerr and [Danny] Ferry,” the longest tenured coach in the NBA quipped about Graham, who hit a runner with 0.9 left in the game.

“When they [Kerr and Ferry] didn't play a whole lot when they were here. And then when we needed them, they came in played and helped us win the championship,” the five-time NBA champion added.

Devonte' Graham's game-winner

San Antonio Spurs guard Davonte' Graham (4) reacts after scoring a three-point basket during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Frost Bank Center.
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

With five seconds left in the fourth quarter and down by one, San Antonio guard Tre Jones gained possession and threw it down the court to Graham. The 29-year-old veteran side-stepped Nuggets star Jamal Murray for a bucket that would ultimately end the night's scoring.

“It was very satisfying,” Graham, who hit a couple of other big buckets down the stretch in finishing with 11 points in 32 minutes off the bench, said.

“I was very happy for Devonte,” Spurs forward Sandro Mamukelashvili said. “That’s my brother. He’s a pro. He stuck with it and never complained. He just came in and stayed ready for this moment. To be honest, I would be happy for everybody, but I’m very happy for Devonte’, because I feel like he deserves it, and he’s a great player.”

The Graham ending big picture

Though he's played in just 22 of the team's 81 games, including six this month as the Spurs have sustained injuries to four of their rotational players down the stretch, Graham as seen consistent minutes over his career. During the 2019-20 season, he averaged 18.2 points per game with the Charlotte Hornets.

“I've been in a lot of games like this and made some big buckets before, but I think you have to shout out guys,” Graham said.

“Mamu had an unbelievable game, Obviously, Vic [Victor Wembanyama] has been doing this all year. But we were down 25 And Zach [Collins] came in the huddle and told us to pick our energy up. I think that was our turning point and we went on a run from there,” Graham added.

After playing plenty for San Antonio last season following an in-season trace, including eight starts, Graham has stayed ready in 2023-24 despite just 13.4 minutes per game the rare times he would see the court.

“He was the same cloth, the same species,” Popovich said in rounding out the comparison to five-time champion, Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry, who won a ring with the Spurs in 2003.

“He busted his ass all year long,” the Hall of Famer continued about Graham. “He was always ready. I'm sure he didn't like it, but he was always there for his team. And down the stretch, he's got to play a little bit more and he's shown that you know, he's still a player.”