Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and across the world people are remembering the civil rights icon and world leader. The NBA has a full slate of games and many of the players and coaches shared their thoughts on the importance of playing on this special day. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, never one to mince words, used the opportunity to talk about the greatness of Dr. King and how disappointed he would be, given the current leadership in America.
Donald Trump recently referred to various poor countries and nations around the world as shitholes. Surprise, black and brown people inhabit those said countries. Which is in line with how he has “governed” the country and representative of how, at least half, this country thinks. Trump naturally walked back his comments with the “I’m not racist defense.” Pop kept it real, like only he can, saying:
(Racism) is insidious and it’s still our national sin that we have to work on. Every time I hear somebody say they’re not a racist, you know they are. So, those are some of the thoughts I have on this day. You want to be happy for some things, but current circumstances make it very difficult to clap too much.
Pop served in the Air Force and is a proud American and believes in the greatness of this country and its people. But he also knows, that as a society we are a long way off from Dr. King’s vision and dream. Popovich continued:
Dr. King, he was truly a person who was interested in making America great for everyone. He understood that racism was our national sin, and if everybody didn’t come together it would bring everybody down, including white people. That promise that he basically demanded for America to fill from way back then is what put us on the road to make America great. At the same time, we all know the situation now. And I think he’d be a very, very sad man to see that a lot of his efforts have been held up and torn down. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at the Voting Rights Act or the ridiculous number of people of color who are incarcerated.
One of the reasons the NBA is such a tremendous league is it encourages its players, coaches and representatives to speak their mind on issues that impact them directly and the world as a whole. Here’s hoping Pop and more people within the NBA continue to stand up and speak truth to power.
Flip the page to see Pop’s full comments.