Gregg Popovich is the coach of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team who has had a very successful career. He is also someone who has progressive views and does not hesitate to speak his mind. On September 26, he spoke about the controversy over athletes kneeling for the national anthem. He spoke openly about what many people dance around, that “Race is the elephant in the room”. He then went on to speak about the responsibility of those who are in privileged positions to use that benefit positively.
“There has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change. Whether it’s the LGBT movement, or women’s suffrage, race, it doesn’t matter. People have to be made to feel uncomfortable. And especially white people, because we’re comfortable.
We still have no clue what being born white means. … Yes, because you were born white, you have advantages that are systemically, culturally, psychologically there. And they’ve been built up and cemented for hundreds of years. But many people can’t look at it. It’s too difficult. It can’t be something that is on their plate on a daily basis. People want to hold their position, people want the status quo, people don’t want to give that up. And until it’s given up, it’s not going be fixed.”
His full remarks below are well worth listening to, providing a political analysis that is much better than pretty much all the talking heads on TV. Note that he lambasted Donald Trump while wearing his Spurs shirt at an official team presentation.
In more recent comments in an interview with Dave Zirin, he provides another example of how he simply does not give a damn about negative repercussions about speaking his mind, unlike other most high profile figures in the sports world who try not to avoid offending owners and powerful politicians.
His latest remarks were prompted by Donald Trump’s disgraceful handling of the deaths of US soldiers in Niger, and he told Zirin that he wanted to make sure his words were on the record.
“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”
“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”
I doubt that Trump will respond to Popovich. Trump seems to duck confrontations with successful people in other fields who cannot be intimidated by him, as can be seen from his silence even after LeBron James called him a ‘bum’.