San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t pull his punches. You may not like what he has to say, but he’ll always tell you exactly what’s on his mind.
And after nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality over the weekend, he had quite a lot on his mind.
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Popovich spoke to The Nation’s Dave Zirin and he touched on several topics that are currently in the news. He began by talking about racism and police violence in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody, and how things continue to stay the same.
“The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we’ve seen it all before but nothing changes,” Popovich said.
“That’s why these protests have been so explosive.
“But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change.
“And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change.”
The 71-year-old four-time champion NBA coach saved his most bitter criticism for President Donald Trump.
Popovich has never shy about criticising Trump, but with protests erupting across the US, the Spurs legend was unequivocal.
“It’s unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn’t care about bringing people together,” Popovich said.
“Even now. That’s how deranged he is. It’s all about him. It’s all about what benefits him personally.
“It’s never about the greater good. And that’s all he’s ever been.”
Popovich said the U.S. was crying out for someone to try and heal the fractures that had developed over the last few decades
“He’s not just divisive. He’s a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die,” he said.
“He will eat you alive for his own purposes.
“I’m appalled that we have a leader who can’t say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ That’s why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward.”
NBA figures speak out against police injustice
After days of protests and violence involving police officers following the death of George Floyd in police custody, NBA legend Michael Jordan has joined the chorus of athletes and other sports figures in politically speaking out.
The Charlotte Hornets owner denounced “ingrained racism and violence toward people of colour” in the U.S. and called for action in a statement posted on his Twitter account on Sunday.
LA Lakers star James was one of many athletes, including WNBA legend Lisa Leslie, to speak out against the officers involved, drawing comparisons between a picture of the now former policeman kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and an image of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was blackballed from the league over his Black Lives Matter protests during the national anthem.
“Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke,” James captioned his Instagram post.
Two-time WNBA champion and three-time MVP Leslie took to Twitter, sharing the same image as James with an equally emotive caption.
“If anybody that follows me is not outraged about these senseless attacks on BLACK MEN, please stop following me!” Leslie said.
“If your spirit is not disturbed, please stop following me! This inflicted Pain but it will never inflict FEAR... sorry, were not made like that!”