Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about his thoughts about Black History Month before Thursday’s game against Philadelphia.
What followed was vintage Popovich, who once again talked about racism and social justice in America. And, oh yeah, he criticized President Trump for trying to “illegitimatize” former president Obama with his incessant claims that Obama was not a U.S. citizen.
“We know that was a big fake,” Popovich said. “But, still, he felt that for some reason it had to be done. I can still remember, paraphrase close to a quote, ‘Investigators were sent to Hawaii and you cannot believe what they found.’ Well, that was a lie. So if it’s being discussed and perpetrated at that level, you’ve got a national problem.”
Popovich said that Black History Month, which started Wednesday, is “a remembrance and a bit of a celebration in some ways. It sounds odd because we’re not there yet, but it’s always important to remember what has passed and what is being experienced now by the black population. It’s a celebration of some of the good things that have happened, and a reminder that there’s a lot more work to do.
“But more than anything, I think people need to take the time to think about it. I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with ‘I’m tired of talking about that. Do we have to talk about race again?’
“And the answer is, ‘You’re damned right we do,’ because it’s always there. It’s systemic in a sense that when you talk about opportunity, it’s not about, ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, you can have the American Dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash.
“If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally, in this society,” Popovich continued. “And all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense or a neighborhood sense, laws, zoning, education. We have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”
Then Popovich ended his remarks by mentioning the president.
“It’s in our national discourse,” he said. “I mean, we have a president of the United States who spent four, five years disparaging and trying to illegitimatize our president, and we know that was a big fake.
“But, still, he felt that for some reason it had to be done. I can still remember, paraphrase close to a quote, ‘Investigators were sent to Hawaii and you cannot believe what they found.’ Well, that was a lie. So if it’s being discussed and perpetrated at that level, you’ve got a national problem.”
Popovich, a U.S. Air Force Academy, has consistently talked about race and social issues during his long career as the Spurs’ coach. Popovich went into Thursday night’s game needing one win to tie former Utah coach Jerry Sloan’s NBA record for most victories with one franchise.
Sloan went 1,127-682 in 23 seasons with the Jazz. Popovich has gone 1,126-496 since replacing Bob Hill as Spurs coach on Dec. 10, 1996. He is in his 21st season at the helm.
Popovich turned 68 on Jan. 28.