San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has never had a problem expressing himself. On the sidelines, and outside the lines, his words are honest and blunt. He doesn’t care what you think, but his personality carries enough weight for people to at least listen.
In response to the killing of George Floyd and the demonstrations that have ensued across the country, it comes as no surprise that Pop had a few words to say.
Last week, he spoke to The Nation’s Dave Zirin about the void in national leadership during a time of unrest.
“It’s so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that black lives matter. Just say those three words,” he told Zirin. “But he won’t, and he can’t. He can’t because it’s more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity. But it’s more than just Trump. The system has to change. I’ll do whatever I can do to help, because that’s what leaders do.”
Yesterday, Pop released a personal video doubling down on his message of racial justice. In it, he specifically calls for white voices to speak up on behalf of Black folks across the country.
“I think I’m just embarrassed, as a white person, to know that [what happened to George Floyd] can happen,” he said looking straight into the camera. “I never thought i’d see that with my own eyes in real time.”
“It’s important that we, as white people ... we have to do it,” Pop continued. “Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years. The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence and patience and effort of black people.”
Pop went on to say, “it’s gotta be us, in my opinion, that speaks truth to power that calls it out no matter what the consequences. We have to speak, we have to not let anything go.”
In a sportsworld filled with statements that have missed the mark, Pop has shown the ability to cut through the B.S. He is not afraid to call out police brutality, a problem plaguing many Black communities, and pulls no punches when he discusses the role of white Americans in the struggle for justice.
Popovich joins a chorus of other athletes who have also used their platform to speak out against the death of George Floyd and call for racial justice.
Over the weekend, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Juan Toscano Anderson, and Von Miller were all seen speaking out in protests.
Yesterday, Miller spoke in front of a group of peaceful protestors. “We have to use our moral compass to make decisions on what is right,” he told the Denver crowd. “It’s 2020. Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown [all fought] and we’re still fighting this fight. It’s up to us to keep it going.”
Earlier in the week, Miller used a long twitter thread to talk about privilege, protesting, and policing.
As other athletes and personnel around the sports world join a growing movement, Pop’s statements remain strikingly honest, blunt and true.
“It’s easy for people to let things go because it doesn’t involve them,” he concludes in his video. “Our country is in trouble, and the basic reason is race.”