Gregg Popovich Discusses Racial Injustice, Protests: 'The System Has to Change'

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2020

CLEVELAND, OHIO - MARCH 08: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs watches the scoreboard during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 08, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich discussed the recent protests throughout the United States with Dave Zirin of The Nation on Sunday. 

Dozens of cities across the U.S. have been engaging in demonstrations following George Floyd's death while in police custody May 25, and Popovich provided his thoughts on the long-term issues facing the U.S.:

"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."

The 71-year-old went on to criticize President Donald Trump for his lack of leadership at a time of crisis and his unwillingness to say "black lives matter," but he noted the problems go beyond one person.

"It's more than just Trump," he said. "The system has to change."

As for the current protests, Popovich said they are "very necessary, but they need to be organized better."

The Air Force Academy graduate has never been afraid to speak his mind, supporting protests from athletes while often criticizing the president.

He is now taking on a leadership role within the NBA as part of a committee on racial injustice and reform to pursue solutions within NBA cities, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

During a protest in San Antonio over the weekend, some people broke into and looted stores, smashed windows and threw eggs at a police car. Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV helped take part in the cleanup the next morning.