Gregg Popovich praises Colin Kaepernick: 'That was a very patriotic thing he did'

Cassandra Negley
·3-min read

Colin Kaepernick is still a trending topic for those in the NFL and out of it. The quarterback reminded the world he hasn’t played in three years — but is still ready — and Jay-Z, of all people, reminded us Kaepernick’s activism is still critically important despite the man himself being minimized.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, in camp with Team USA, spoke about Kaepernick again on Tuesday, using him as an example of what he believes is patriotism.

“That was a very patriotic thing he did,” Popovich said, via ESPN. “He cared about his country enough to fix some things that were obvious, that everybody knows about but does nothing about."

Popovich said anyone who calls people criticizing inequalities “unpatriotic” is ignorant.

Popovich on patriotism: ‘Being a critic of inequalities ... makes America great’

The 70-year-old Popovich has earned a reputation as being one of the “most woke” coaches in the NBA. And he’s often outspoken, blasting politicians after back-to-back mass shootings last week in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

His comments on patriotism, via ESPN:

“Patriotism means a lot of things to different people. There's people who are truly committed in that sense and people who are fake. The show of patriotism, I think, is a bit inappropriate and that is not something that I think we want to emulate. Because someone hugs a flag doesn't mean they're patriotic.

“Being a patriot is somebody that respects their country and understands that the best thing about our country is that we have the ability to fix things that have not come to fruition for a lot of people so far.

"All the promises in the beginning when the country was established is fantastic, but those goals have not been reached yet for a lot of people. So you can still be patriotic and understand that there still needs to be criticism and changes and more attention paid to those who do not have what other people do have, and that's where we've fallen short in a lot of different ways. Being a critic of those inequalities does not make you a non-patriot. It's what makes America great, that you can say those things and attack those things to make them better. That's what a lot of other countries don't have. You lose your freedom when you do that."

That’s when Popovich used Kaepernick as an example of what he meant by standing up against inequalities. Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to raise awareness of “systematic oppression” and protest police brutality and racism. He’s been bombarded with claims of being “unpatriotic” ever since and his name alone is a match for conversational fire.

Popovich, who attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and served five years of active duty, has spoken positively about Kaepernick in the past. He told the Undefeated in 2016 that Kaepernick was able to kneel because of the military and while many understood that, there are still those who want to “jump on the bandwagon.”

Popovich wants Team USA to be example

Popovich is preparing Team USA for the FIBA World Cup in China. It kicks off Aug. 31 and goes through Sept. 15. His goal is another gold, but it’s also that the squad represents its country the right way.

“We can’t fix the divisiveness in our country,” Popovich said last week, via the Washington Post. “But what we can do is be a great example of how people can come together for a common goal and achieve it. It’s our responsibility to not only become the best team we can be, but it’s the way we conduct ourselves with USA on our shirts. We’re representing a lot of people.”

The U.S. will play Spain in a World Cup tuneup Friday in Anaheim, California.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 09:  Head coach Gregg Popovich of the 2019 USA Men's National Team gestures to players on the court before the 2019 USA Basketball Men's National Team Blue-White exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena on August 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Gregg Popovich said Colin Kaepernick's actions were a "very patriotic thing" and used him in his description of patriotism. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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