Spurs coach Gregg Popovich remembered former Spurs player Rasual Butler as a "wonderful guy" in his session with the media before Thursday night's game against the Houston Rockets at the AT&T Center.
Butler, 38, and his wife, R&B singer Leah Labelle, were killed in a one-car traffic accident early Wednesday morning in Studio City, Calif.
Asked what came to mind whenever he thought about Butler, Popovich said: "So many things. He was a wonderful teammate for everybody. He was a good person in every way. He was always upbeat, always ready to do whatever we asked. Just a wonderful guy."
Butler entered the NBA with the Miami Heat in 2002 and played for seven other teams before joining the Spurs at the start of the 2015 season. He played on the 2015-16 team that finished a franchise-best 67-15 in Tim Duncan's last campaign with the Silver and Black. The Spurs waived Butler in March 2016 and he retired retired from the league that year.
Popovich was somber and spoke haltingly as he reflected on Butler's tragic death.
"Just another lesson in how short life can be, and how important it is to enjoy each other," Popovich said. "Hope that you can be fortunate enough not to get in a situation where danger can pop up. In his case, the sadness is the the same for all of us.
"These guys, something befalls them like this, it's always a shock. It's always a loss, but much more so to their own families. Obviously, his wife was with him, which makes it even more tragic. We feel for all the family. That's where your thoughts have to go. Once again, just be amazed that it can happen to any of us at anytime."
Popovich was asked what made Butler a good teammate.
"Coming to work with a happy face, so to speak, ready to do your job, feel responsible to his teammates, doing whatever's asked of him, supporting other players, Knowing how to respond in a win and in a loss. All those things. Being consistent in that was really the key."
"Think of all the travel and the different situations that all the guys are in. Having someone who is mature and supportive is always a great thing."
Born in Philadelphia, Butler played at La Salle before getting selected by Miami with the 24th pick in the second round in the 2002 NBA draft.