The NBA Coaches Association became the latest to issue a forceful statement regarding the nationwide protests of police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, calling police brutality “shameful, inhumane and intolerable” while promising its members will use their power and platform to affect change in their communities.
This came on the heels of an NBA internal memo from Adam Silver calling for team leadership and ownership to listen to players on the issue and praised players for speaking out over the past few days. A number of current and former players have organized or participated in protests, with even more speaking out on social media, along with teams issuing statements as well as a few owners speaking out and using their platform, like Michael Jordan.
Doc Rivers and some other coaches have likewise issued their own statements outside the NBCA statement, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich chose to do the same late Sunday night when he called Dave Zirin of The Nation to deliver a lengthy and scathing critique of the response of Donald Trump to the protests.
“He’s not just divisive. He’s a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die. 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. He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler. Actually, I think it’s best to ignore him. There is nothing he can do to make this better because of who he is: a deranged idiot.”
This is just one example of Popovich’s fury towards the president in the piece, as he also goes after Mitch McConnell and calls for better organization of protests to have more effectiveness (and to have better known start and end times to, as he hopes, lead to better control and less rioting). As Zirin notes at the end, he was not able to ask how Popovich felt they could achieve that goal when police have often been the ones escalating the violence in the protests, as Popovich got what he wanted to get off his chest, ending the call saying, “The system has to change. I’m willing to do my part. That’s all I’ve got. Bye, Dave.”
That Popovich would take such sharp aim at Trump is unsurprising given he’s been an outspoken critic of Trump for the last four years and has been consistent with his anger towards the White House’s response to issues of racial injustice, gun violence, and more. Pop has never been one to pull punches on his beliefs, and certainly doesn’t here.