Gregg Popovich Talks Racial Injustice, Past Disenfranchisement of Black Voters

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2020

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, right, talks with guard Dejounte Murray during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Monday, March 2, 2020, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Darren Abate/Associated Press

Many NBA players and coaches have used their platform as public figures to keep the conversation focused on important social issues like systemic racism and police reform during the NBA's restart at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, for example, used his pregame press conference with reporters to talk about the history of institutional racism in the United States, per Royce Young of ESPN:

Royce Young @royceyoung

First question for Gregg Popovich today was about Marco Belinelli's status for the game against the Grizzlies. This was his answer: https://t.co/oLxV6J2mdD

Popovich and Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon made headlines when they chose not to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before the team's 129-120 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. The majority of players and coaches around the league have been kneeling during the anthem, an homage to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did so in the 2016 season to protest discrimination and police brutality. 

Popovich and Hammon did wear Black Lives Matter shirts.  

"I prefer to keep that to myself," Popovich said when asked about his decision to stand, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. "Everybody has to make a personal decision. The league has been great about that. Everybody has the freedom to react any way that they want. For whatever reasons that I have, I reacted the way I wanted to."

Spurs star DeMar DeRozan supported the decision of both to stand.

"With Pop and Becky standing, I have no thoughts [contrary to] belief in them that is all out of genuine, out of a positive side of their heart. Same way we kneel. Don't take away nothing from those guys.

"You know Pop speaks out. When it comes to Becky, she's been [on the] front line, fighting for equality since I've been a fan of hers playing in the WNBA. So everybody has their own right of making a statement and you can't vilify nobody for not doing what the other group is doing. I'm all for it."

Popovich, 71, has long been one of the most vocal coaches in American professional sports when it comes to social issues. That has continued in Orlando.

"Considering what's going on in our country with race, it's always been our national sin and it's always been something that has never been faced as well as it should have been," he said Friday. "... And nothing could be more poignant than to have all of the teams here all committed to making statements and letting it be known that this has got to change and not just a little bit."