San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expressed appreciation Monday for the NBA’s annual promotion of Black History Month before his squad’s game at Utah, saying “it’s important to bring attention to it, even if it angers some people.”
Popovich was asked about why it’s important for the league to promote Black History Month.
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Popovich said. “The league is made up of a lot of black guys. To honor [Black History Month] and understand it is pretty simplistic. How would you ignore that? But more importantly, we live in a racist country that hasn’t figured it out yet. And it’s always important to bring attention to it, even if it angers some people. The point is that you have to keep it in front of everybody’s nose so that they understand it, that it still hasn’t been taken care of, and we have a lot of work to do.”
Long outspoken about the behavior of President Donald Trump, Popovich has also on several other occasions expressed opinions regarding social injustice and racism. A graduate of the Air Force Academy who served five years in the military, Popovich was asked last February what Black History Month meant to him.
“Well, it’s 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,” Popovich said. “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 if people 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,’ or ‘Do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity it’s not about, ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’
“That’s a bunch of hogwash,” Popovich continued. “If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society. And all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with 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. And it’s in our national discourse.”