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Facing in the virus an enemy he could not tweet into submission, the president was desperate to change the subject, from pressing bogus conspiracy theories to inflaming tensions over the death of George Floyd.When Trump did address public health issues that day, he alarmed officials by revealing that he had been taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic — despite his own administration’s warning that doing so could cause severe heart problems.
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t pull his punches. You may not like what he has to say, but he’ll always tell you exactly what’s on his mind. And after nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality over the weekend, he had quite a lot on his mind.
© Provided by Yahoo! Sports Spurs head coach Greg Popovich didn't hold back when talking about Donald Trump's response to the protests that have sprung up in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Popovich spoke to The Nation’s Dave Zirin on Sunday, and he touched on several topics that are currently in the news. He began by talking about racism and police violence in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody, and how things continue to stay the same.
Washington Bullets legend Wes Unseld dead at 74
Unseld, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988, played center for the Baltimore/Washington Bullets from 1968-1981. He led the team to a championship in 1978 and was named NBA Finals MVP. The former No. 2 overall pick was also a five-time All-Star and the MVP of the league in 1969.After he retired from playing, Unseld transitioned to the role of vice president with the Bullets for six years before becoming the head coach of the team in 1988. He coached Washington until 1996.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports.
“The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we’ve seen it all before but nothing changes. That’s why these protests have been so explosive. But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change. And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change.”
Then he moved on to leadership, lamenting the current resident of the White House, President Donald Trump.
“It’s unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn’t care about bringing people together. Even now. That’s how deranged he is. It’s all about him. It’s all about what benefits him personally. It’s never about the greater good. And that’s all he’s ever been.”
Opinion: The truth can be scary for college coaches, but progress is already happening
Events that used to be kept in-house are being exposed. College players realize they have power to call someone on the carpet and force change.As athletes have become more empowered to speak up in the wake of mass protests from coast-to-coast and less frightened about who they might offend by discussing the racial inequality they have seen and experienced in this country, it has been impossible to predict what’s around the corner.
Popovich has spoken about Trump before, but given everything that’s happened over the past week, this time he really went in.
“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. 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. But he can’t do anything to put us on a positive path because he’s not a leader.
“It’s like what Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz used to say when they had the courage to say it: He’s unfit. But they have chosen instead to be invisible and obsequious in the face of this carnage. In the end what we have is a fool in place of a president, while the person who really runs the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, destroys the United States for generations to come. McConnell has destroyed and degraded our judicial system. He has tried to destroy heath care. He’s destroyed the environment. He’s the master and Trump’s the stooge, and what’s funny is that Trump doesn’t even know it. Trump’s always wanted to be part of the in-group, but McConnell is an in-group of one and Trump plays the fool.
Former Green Beret Nate Boyer, who advised Colin Kaepernick to kneel, reacts to Drew Brees' protest comments
Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and NFL player who advised Colin Kaepernick to kneel in 2016, shared his thoughts on Drew Brees' protest comments.Nate Boyer -- a long snapper for the University of Texas following his Army service who played for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 preseason -- told San Diego's 97.
“He’s not just divisive. He’s a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die. He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I’m appalled that we have a leader who can’t say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ That’s why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward. He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler. Actually, I think it’s best to ignore him. There is nothing he can do to make this better because of who he is: a deranged idiot.”
As far as the protests that have sprung up across the country (and the world) since the death of George Floyd in police custody, Popovich let up on the gas pedal a little. He gave the protesters advice that he hopes will help them.
“[The protests] are very necessary, but they need to be organized better. It’s frustrating. When Dr. King did a protest, you knew when to show, when to come back the next day. But if you’re just organizing protests and everyone is coming and going in every direction, it doesn’t work that way. If it was nonviolent, they knew to be nonviolent, but this is muddled. More leadership would be very welcome so these incredible mass demonstrations can’t be used by people for other means. We can limit the bad, but only if things are organized better.”
The NBA's return brings with it a leadership opportunity in the social justice movement
Analysis: The league has a chance to dominate this conversation in the next five months, and seizing that opportunity could carry the current movement forward in a way that creates a lasting impact. There was a time we hoped the league could provide a welcome distraction for Americans quarantined and isolated because of the coronavirus. That time has passed. We should no longer welcome any distraction from the movement currently spreading across the country. All eyes should be focused on a broken system.
Popovich has never shied away from making political statements and standing up for what he believes in. It’s comforting that even though the NBA is currently suspended due to COVID-19, Popovich hasn’t changed one bit.
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Gregg Popovich says Roger Goodell 'folded' after Trump criticized NFL players protesting .
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich believes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “folded” when President Donald Trump criticized players kneeling to protest police brutality during the national anthem. Popovich criticized Goodell for waiting until last week to say that black lives matter and realizing publicly that quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest was never about the flag. “A smart man is running the N.F.L. and he didn’t understand the difference between the flag and what makes the country great — all the people who fought to allow Kaepernick to have the right to kneel for justice,” he says. “The flag is irrelevant.