The longtime coach of the NBA’s multi-title-winning San Antonio Spurs said flatly this week that America is “a racist country.”
Gregg Popovich, who also is the current coach of the U.S. national basketball team and a persistent critic of President Trump, told reporters Monday that this is why Black History Month has to be celebrated.
“I think it’s pretty obvious. Our league is made up of a lot of black guys,” Popovich said before a game in Salt Lake City. “To honor that and understand it is pretty simplistic. How would you ignore that?
“More importantly, we live in a racist country that hasn’t figured it out yet,” he concluded.
Popovich also advocated ignoring any anger possibly produced by Black History Month, because people need to have it in their faces.
“It’s always important to bring attention to it, even if it angers some people. The point is, you have to keep it in front of everybody’s nose and understand that it still hasn’t been taken care of and we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, the NBA was 74.3 percent black during the 2015-16 season and 81.7 percent were people of color. The study said that the NBA was 18.3 percent white last season, which was 5 percent less than the season before. Source
Now in the midst of his 21st complete season and a three-time coach of the year, Popovich is by far the NBA’s oldest-tenured coach — Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat and Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks are both now coaching their 10th complete seasons
Under Popovich’s guidance, the Spurs have won five titles and never failed to win 50 games in a full season. He holds the NBA record for most career wins coaching just one team.
Monday night’s remarks are far from the first time Popovich, an Air Force Academy graduate who began his coaching career as an assistant with the Falcons, has ventured into public declarations of liberal politics.
“I’m still sick to my stomach,” he said after Mr. Trump’s election in November 2016. “Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and I live in that country where half the country ignored all that to elect someone.”
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