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Although he is famously curt during sideline interviews and postgame press conferences, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has become one of the most vocal figures in all of sports when it comes to politics and social issues.
In 2017, he has weighed in with impassioned remarks on the election of Donald Trump as president, the Women’s Marches that followed Trump’s inauguration, “alternative facts,” and Trump’s recent executive order on immigration.
Before his team’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, Popovich was asked what Black History Month means to him.
His response was a three-minute monologue that touched on Trump, the American Dream, systemic racism, and more.
He began by responding to the question about Black History Month:
“Well, it’s a remembrance and a bit of a celebration in some ways. It sounds odd because we’re not there yet, but it’s always important to remember what has passed and what is being experienced now by the black population. It’s a celebration of some of the good things that have happened and a reminder that there’s a lot more work to do.”
He then expressed his disdain for those who don’t want to talk about race or feel it is necessary:
“But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with ‘I’m tired of talking about that’ or ‘Do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is, you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity, it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American Dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash.”
He launched into a further discussion about systemic racism and white privilege:
“If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, or a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education – we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it. And it’s in our national discourse.”
This led him, ultimately, to Trump:
“We have a president of the United States who spent four or five years disparaging and trying to illegitimatize our president. And we know that was a big fake. But still, [he] felt that for some reason it had to be done. I can still remember a paraphrase close to a quote, ‘Investigators were sent to Hawaii, and you cannot believe what they found.’ Well, that was a lie. So if it’s being discussed and perpetrated at that level, you’ve got a national problem. I think that’s enough.”
The Spurs went on to blow out the 76ers and improve to 38-11 on the season.