Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich: ‘Our Country Is an Embarrassment to the World’

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San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich responds to interview questions before the meal is served. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich responds to interview questions.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich delivered scathing criticism of President Donald Trump's administration and his recent comments on professional athletes at the team's media day Monday.

"Our country is an embarrassment to the world," Popovich said. "... We know the racism that exists, but it’s gone beyond that to a point where I’m more worried about, and confused by, the people around our president."

Trump, speaking at a rally in Huntsville, Ala. Friday, criticized NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem, saying team owners should fire "the sons of bitches" who protest. Trump also took aim at Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry, disinviting the two-time NBA champion from visiting the White House via Twitter.

The Warriors released a statement following Trump's remarks, accepting that "President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited." The team instead said it would use the trip to Washington, D.C., to do community service and "celebrate equality, diversity, and inclusion" – values the organization says it embraces.

"I thought it was comical that it was rescinded because they weren’t going anyway," Popovich said Monday, referring to the Warriors' decision and Trump's tweet. "It’s like a sixth grader’s going to have a party in his backyard and he finds out somebody might not come, so he disinvites him. But again, I think the behavior, although it’s disgusting, it’s also comical."

A weekend of football turned into a weekend of NFL players protesting during the national anthem: some kneeled or raised fists, others stayed in the locker room during the anthem, and many locked arms with their teammates in a show of unity and solidarity. Several team owners stood arm-locked with their players.

Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones, whose team played the Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. Monday night, said Sunday that the national anthem is "not the place to do anything but honor the flag and everybody that's given up a little for it."

Dallas Morning News writer David Moore tweeted Monday that the Cowboys had not yet not determined what they would do during the anthem. "Arm in arm a possibility, but nothing concrete yet," the tweet read.

On Monday night, Jones, his players, and his coaches locked arms and took a collective knee prior to the American flag being unfurled and the anthem being performed. The team stood on the sidelines as The Star-Spangled Banner played and some crowd members booed.

#FootballIsFamily the Cowboys' Twitter later stated.

Trump on Monday spoke of the "tremendous solidarity for our flag and our country" during Sunday's games.

"This is an individual who actually thought that when people held arms during the game, that they were doing it to honor the flag," Popovich said. "That’s delusional. Absolutely delusional. But it’s what we have to live with.

"The childishness, and the gratuitous fear-mongering, and race-baiting has been so consistent, it’s almost expected. The bar has been lowered so far," he added.

Popovich has repeatedly expressed his disappointment and disdain for the president, calling various comments and statements made by Trump prior to his November election, "xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic" during an interview in January. In May, amid the Western Conference Finals, Popovich said the new president's comportment had cast “a pall over the whole country.” 

The president's unexpected turn of attention and wrath toward professional athletes who express their views on issues such as racism, social inequality, and police shootings of unarmed black men, has proven to be a major distraction from the opening weeks of the NFL season and spilled over into the NBA.

Spurs players have "the right and ability to say what they would like to say and act the way they would like to act, and they have our full support,” Popovich said.

The Spurs open the preseason on Oct. 2 in Sacramento, Calif. against the Kings. The first home game will take place Friday, Oct. 6 at the AT&T Center.

13 thoughts on “Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich: ‘Our Country Is an Embarrassment to the World’

  1. The national anthem is a “dumb” song and a relic of an era that no longer exists. It was written when a foreign nation was threatening our shores – British vs. Americans. The first three stanzas ask a lot of questions; the tune chosen was a barroom drinking song that most people knew at the time; and I doubt that the Congress that adopted this as our national anthem knew what they were really saying to the people. “The land of the Free”????? Even as the war of 1812 was being fought, South Carolinians were slave holders. If one were to look at the fourth stanza, which purports to answer the questions, I doubt that most people in our country today would agree with the sentiments expressed. “Bless the Power that made and preserved us a nation…” Our nation was created out of the lives of brave men and women who fought for its creation and freedom, and while many were practicing Christians or other religious types, I don’t feel that giving the result of the war over to a higher power really reflects how it all came about. “And this be our motto ‘…in God is our Trust.'” In today’s political climate, there have even been suggestions that this phrase should be removed from our coinage and currency. The First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech, and while I have often disagreed with the Supreme Court’s interpretation, the First Amendment must stand. And the professional athletes are fully within their rights to express themselves as they see fit. Perhaps, the time has come for the adoption/writing of a new “national anthem”, one which will reflect the true nature of this country. Perhaps…

  2. This Sarah disagrees. If we change our national anthem with every change in “political climate” then we might as well not have one.

  3. Just the opposite.The US is the envy of the free world. Popovich needs to stick to coaching and leave politics to the politicians!

  4. I won’t watch NFL anymore and I won’t even watch my own Spurs or cheer them on. Pop needs to get a grip on his heritage and the reason he was able to climb the ladder to where he is today – FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY. Remember the thing our nation stood for IN THE BEGINNING, hence the NATIONAL ANTHEM

  5. Sarah Jo is “nuts” and totally out of touch. Trump is too and is an embarrassment to us, our nation and our government. But Pop is out of touch too with his comments on the Spurs’ players – sounds more like a Berkley, Boulder, Madison or Austin comment – stick to your coaching Pop and don’t improperly influence our youth and your young players – bet they didn’t teach you that at the Air Force Academy.

  6. Pop is getting much needed attention for a problem that exists in many (NOT ALL) sectors, His excellent relationship with players has given him insight we may not all have into ongoing struggles. I do not think our country is an embarrassment at least not from my recent overseas travels; many still yearn to visit and/or immigrate. I do think what Mr. Trump and others in his administration verbalize is an embarrassment as well as outrageous, especially where the message is so unlike what the United States stand for.
    I believe everyone has the right to peacefully demonstrate their concerns, be it on the football field or elsewhere. However, what the flag means for me is exactly in line with those concerns, so I believe advocating for “liberty and (equal) justice for all” are the reasons I will continue to stand, with my hand on my heart, for the national anthem.

  7. Reading these comments, some of which I agree, however NOT popular according what I read. I am truly appalled by the immaturity of those who “name call” others who share an opinion they do not agree with.
    GROW UP! Am I calling you a name? Hummm.
    I do believe strongly that politics and religion are topics a person needs to discuss very carefully. You are bound to offend someone. When you are a non-politician who takes to voicing publicly your opinion on either, you risk offending others.

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