This afternoon at San Antonio Spurs media day, coach Gregg Popovich addressed Donald Trump’s recent comments on Steph Curry, as well as the broader reaction to NFL players taking a knee en masse. Popovich has been giving thoughtful and eloquent responses to questions about politics since the election, and his most recent remarks are some of his most forceful.
Here’s his monologue on the vitriol with which protesting players have been attacked. (A complete transcription follows each video.)
I just heard a comment this morning from a NASCAR owner and from Mr. Petty that just blew me away, just blew me away. Where the owner described the fact that he would get the Greyhound bus tickets for anybody to leave and they’d be fired, and Mr. Petty who said people who act the way we saw on Sunday, “They 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. And 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? To go to the grassroots and not allow this to happen again?
Our country’s an embarrassment in the world. This is an individual that actually thought that when people held arms during the games that they were doing it to honor the flag. That’s delusional. Absolutely delusional, but it’s what we have to live with.
So you got a choice; we can continue to bounce our heads off the wall with his conduct, or we can decide that the institutions of our country are more important, that people are more important, that the decent America that we all thought we had and want is more important, and get down to business at the grassroots level and do what we have to do.”
On Trump “rescinding” the Warriors’ invitation to the White House:
Well, I thought it was comical that it was rescinded, because they weren’t going anyway. It’s like a sixth-grader who’s gonna have a party in his backyard and he finds out somebody might not come so he disinvites him.
But again I think, the behavior, although it’s disgusting, it’s also comical.
On Patty Mills’s decision to resign with the Spurs because of the team’s culture:
Well, if we’ve done anything to widen people’s cultural or intellectual horizons, I guess that’s great. We don’t have the answers, I just think being aware is important basketball is our job, but we have lives. We have children and grandchildren and friendships and ups and downs in all of our lives, and I think that it’s important for our players to understand that the word they live in is complicated, especially today for all the reasons that we know. So whatever we can do to make players aware of their emotions, their feelings, and consequences thereof, I think it’s part of our responsibility.