If you were expecting Gregg Popovich to have thoughts on the war between NBA players and Donald Trump that caught fire over the weekend, you won’t be disappointed. The Spurs coach took questions during the team’s media day on Monday and was asked about the president, the White House invitation that Steph Curry declined (but was later rescinded), protests by athletes, and more.
Popovich has not exactly been a fan of Trump since the reality TV star and businessman started becoming a legitimate candidate for the Republican nomination, and he is so sick of the current landscape that he started calling the situation “boring.”
Pop also went so far as to call the country “an embarrassment to the world” right now. He did have his typical wit, opening his presser by telling people to “ask me the same questions you asked me 15 years ago.”
But when it came to the big stuff, Popovich didn’t shy away from it.
The full big quote is transcribed below, as Popovich spoke unfiltered for a few minutes:
“There’s a lot involved in that when you say culture and politics and sport,” Popovich said. “People write books about that, so I would hesitate to take that on as a whole. It makes more sense to me to be more specific. I’ll just tell you what we say to our team. Each one of them has the right and the ability to say what they would like and act the way they’d like to act. They have our full support. No matter what they might want to do or not do, if it’s important to them it’s respected by us and there’s no recrimination no matter what might take place, unless it’s ridiculous egregious. There’s a line for everything. We do live in a difficult time and it doesn’t do a whole lot of go. We all know the situation and it gets beaten up every day by talking heads and it starts to get personal. I think we all know why, and we all know what the source is, where a lot of the division comes from. To dwell on that sometimes is the wrong way to go because it’s so obvious now it’s boring. The childishness, and the gratuitous fear-mongering and race-baiting has been so consistent that it’s almost expected.
The bar has been lowered so far that I think it’s more important to be thinking about what to do in a more organic roots-based level. Thinking about the efforts to restrict voter registration, comments that demean cultures, ethic groups, races, women, those sorts of things. What can be done from an organic way to fight that? We know how everything happens. We know where the power in the country is. We know the racism that exists. It’s gone beyond that to the point where I’m more worried about – and more confused by – the people around our president. These are intelligent people who know exactly what’s going on, who were basically very negative about his actions but now it seems it’s condoned. We saw it this weekend in his comments about people that should be fired, or people that shouldn’t be allowed to do this sort of thing. I wonder what the people think about who voted for him, where their line is, how much they can take.
Where does the morality and the decency kick in? I understand very well they didn’t like their choice, economically, a lot of people had a problem and he was the right guy at the right time to tap into that mood. People overlooked one hell of a lot to be able to pull that trigger and vote in that direction, but it was because they wanted change. They felt ignored. They actually thought something would happen that would aid them, but at what price is the question. As we see the actions over and over and over again, one wonders what is in their heads, and they’ve come to the conclusion that they had the wrong vehicle. The might have good ideas or good reasons why they wanted to go the way they went, but someone else who had a little bit more decency about how they approach other people or other groups might have served better.
That’s what I worry about in this country. I wonder about if you live where you thought you lived. I just heard a comment this morning from a NASCAR owner, and from Mr. Petty, that just blew me away. Just blew me away. The owner described the fact that he would give a Greyhound Bus ticket to anybody to leave, they’d be fired, and Mr. Petty said people who act the way we saw on Sunday should leave the country. That’s where I live. I had no idea that I lived in a country where people would actually say that sort of thing. I’m not totally naive, but I think these people have been enabled by an example that we’ve all been given. You’ve seen it in Charlottesville and on and on and on. That’s not a surprise. Get over it. What do we do to get it done? What are the grassroots to not allow this to happen again.
Our country is an embarrassment to the world.”
Popovich and Warriors coach Steve Kerr haven’t just allowed their players to speak up, they’ve encouraged it, which has led to the league itself to encourage activism out of its players. This isn’t new; it’s just getting a lot more visibility than it had in previous situations. And players – stars especially – won’t back down, no matter how much the president keeps tweeting.
You can watch the full press conference here: