San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who has been critical of President Donald Trump in the past, offered his harshest criticism yet of Trump and the current state of the United States during the team's media day Monday.
He spoke about the recent entanglement of politics and sports, per Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News:
He spoke about the enabling of racism and racist behavior in the country:
"Our country is an embarrassment to the world," he added, per Rohlin.
He touched on Trump's decision to rescind a White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors, per Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:
And he spoke about white privilege, per Michael Lee of The Vertical:
"Obviously, race is the elephant in the room, and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly, it's not going to get better. ... 'Oh, that again. They pulled the race card again. Why do we have to talk about that?' Well, because it's uncomfortable. There has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change, whether it's the LGBT community 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 of what being born white means. And if you read some of the recent literature, you realize there really is no such thing as whiteness. We kind of made it up. That's not my original thought, but it's true.
"It's hard to sit down and decide that, yes, it's like you're at the 50-meter mark in a 100-meter dash. You've got that kind of a lead, yes, because you were born white. You have advantages that are systemically, culturally, psychologically there. And they have 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. Until it's given up, it's not going to be fixed."
Popovich's comments came on the heels of Trump taking aim at both the Warriors and NFL players this weekend. The president said any players who knelt during the national anthem should be sent off the field or even lose their jobs, calling them "sons of b---hes."
Following Colin Kaepernick's lead, several NFL players had been kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality. On Sunday, a huge swath of players kneeled, locked arms or didn't appear on the field during the anthem in protest of Trump's remarks and in solidarity with those players who had chosen to protest previously.
Those opposed to that particular form of protest have claimed it disrespects the military or the flag.
But Popovich, who served in the Air Force in the 1970s and defended his own players' rights to protest or speak out as they see fit, clearly does not agree with that interpretation.