NBA coach: ‘People have to be made to feel uncomfortable’

Gregg Popovich, the undisputed finest coach in the National Basketball Association, provided a response to the “just stick to sports” crowd in the wake of yesterday’s protests at football games.

Popovich, the coach of the San Antonio Spurs, provided exactly what has been missing in the nation over the last 72 hours — a calm and honest perspective about the problems facing the society in which he lives.

In a business in which people in authority take no risks, Popovich has always been an ill fit. He has made no secret of his disdain for the administration, but he says he’s bored with talking about the president, preferring to talk about voters instead.

“They wanted change; they felt ignored,” he said of voters who handed the president an Electoral College win. “They actually thought something would happen that would aid them, but at what price?” he said.

“Someone else that might have had a little more decency about how they approach other people and other groups might have served better, and that’s what I worry about in the country. You wonder if you live where you thought you lived.”

Popovich, who was participating in his team’s media day, cited the response from Richard Petty Racing team owner Richard Childress when asked what he would do if one of his employees protested.

“Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over,” Childress said. “I told them anyone who works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people have gave their lives for it. This is America.”

“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States,” Richard Petty added

“That blew me away,” Popovich said at his news conference today. “That’s where I live. I had no idea I lived in a country where people would actually say that sort of thing. I’m not totally naive but I think these people have been enabled by an example that we’ve been given.”

Our country is an embarrassment in the world. This is an individual who actually thought when people held arms during the games that they were doing it to honor the flag. That’s delusional. But it’s what we have to live with.

So you’ve got a choice. We can continue to bounce our heads off the wall with his conduct or we can decide that the institutions of our country are more important, that the people are more important, that the decent America that we all thought we had and want is more important and get down to business at the grassroots level and do what we have to do.

Race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that, but unless it is talked about, constantly, it’s not going to get better.

People get bored. ‘Oh is it that again.’ ‘They’re pulling the race card again.’ ‘Why do we have to talk about that again?’ Well, because it’s uncomfortable, and there has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change… People have to be made to feel uncomfortable, and especially white people because we’re comfortable.

We still have no clue what being born white means … It’s like you’re in the 50-meter mark of a 100-meter dash and 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 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. And until it’s given up, it’s not going to be fixed.

When a reporter moved Popovich off politics and back to the play of his team, it seemed trivial.

Because in the big scheme of things, sports is.

  • crystals
  • jon

    Disrespecting the anthem and flag is unacceptable at a NASCAR event, But waving a symbol of open insurrection against the country that the anthem and flag represent…. that’s fine.

    Makes you think that maybe this isn’t about what we say it’s about so much as something else… but what?
    Why would we wave a flag that represents succession from the union over keeping slavery (of black people) around, and condemn actions protesting violence against blacks, while claiming both things are all about patriotism? (even though that can’t be right, succession from the union is the opposite of patriotism)
    What’s the common denominator here? No one can say for sure…

    • It’s about race. It’s been about race. It’s always going to be about race.

      Everything else is intentional distraction.

      It’s about race.

      • KariBemidji

        My go-to response when discussing the anthem controversy is: it’s about who is doing the protesting and what they are protesting. If it was ‘take knee for breast cancer’ it would be a non-story.

  • MikeB

    I appreciate his comment that there is no change without people first being uncomfortable. People do not want to understand this.

    Pop is the best

  • Rob

    I generally don’t give a rat’s heinie about the gazillionaire sports players and owners, but the protesting players and coaches like Popovich are truly inspiring. Sometimes it takes power to effectively speak truth to power.

    Regarding Childress and the other NASCAR putzes, they clearly failed ninth grade civics. SAD!!

    • Pop graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in Soviet studies, then served his five year obligation. He’s the real deal.

      • Rob

        Would be cool to see Pop use his bully pulpit to help get Kaepernick past the de facto NFL hiring boycott.

  • Rob

    Good approach.

  • Postal Customer

    Interesting comments, though he kind of parrots the canard of economic anxiety bringing Trump to office. That’s why Trump calls Nazis fine people, right? The ‘Fire the SOB’ comment? Economic anxiety, eh?

    • He was citing the conventional wisdom of why he was elected. The things you cite all happened this summer, months after the election.

      • Postal Customer

        I know all that. I’m saying economic anxiety isn’t why Trump was elected.

  • KTFoley

    This is what a leader sounds like.

  • Dan Thiede

    Our country is an embarrassment in the world.


    • Could you expand on this and why you believe he’s a Communist. What exactly in his response would you say mirrors the Communist doctrine?

    • AmiSchwab

      do you even know what communism is danny?

    • theoacme

      All right, then, I’ll GO to hell!

      – Jim, Huckleberry Finn

      No you cain’t, not tills we lynches y’all! Earl, get my rope! Ethel, NO STARCH!!!

      – the average NASCAR fan that agrees with Richard Petty

      I know not what course others might take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.

      – Patrick Henry

      Nay, I came to keep bloodguiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law of banishment upon pain of death, made against the innocent servants of the Lord, therefore my blood will be required at your hands who willfully do it; but for those that do is in the simplicity of their hearts, I do desire the Lord to forgive them. I came to do the will of my Father, and in obedience to his will I stand even to the death.

      – Mary Dyer, and me, to all those who support President Trump’s position.

  • AmiSchwab

    google texas sports anchor dale hanse. just as well done as popovich