Before yelling insults at a televised Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton while viewing the second United States presidential debate, scheduled for Sunday night in St. Louis, remember that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the only political pundit humankind needs.
Coach Pop has often dropped keeping-it-real thoughts on the state of the (often jacked up) country. During training camp for the 2016-2017 season, Popovich subjected his players to quizzes about current events and world history, according to the Wall Street Journal
. He gave team members copies of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ lauded book Between the World and Me
, a James Baldwin-esque, The Fire Next Time
first-person account of what it’s like being black in America. Additionally, Popovich, together with the team, watched The Birth of a Nation
, a period drama film that chronicles the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner.
In other words, Pop is heady dude.
Recently, Big Popo also dropped his trademark knowledge, insights and gripes about the state of the country to the media. While watching the debates – or ditching that circus for a DVR recording of the Spurs-Hawks preseason game from Saturday night, Sunday Night Football
or even a tape-delayed broadcast of the Professional Bull Riders from Pasadena, Texas – read the following deep-thought comments from Pop for a gauge on what’s really going on in the country.
On whether he was born in the United States and the whereabouts of his birth certificate.
I was going to bring it, but I lost it.
On race relations.
I think race is the elephant in the room in our country. The social situation that we’ve all experienced is absolutely disgusting in a lot of ways. What’s really interesting is the people that jump right away to say, one is attacking the police, or the people that jump on the other side. It’s a question where understanding and empathy has to trump, no pun intended, has to trump any quick reactions of an ideological or demagogical nature. It’s a topic that can’t just be swung at, people have to be very accurate and direct in what they say and do.
On athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done. The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it. Whether it’s Dr. [Martin Luther] King getting large groups together and boycotting buses, or what’s happened in [North] Carolina with the NBA and other organizations pulling events to make it known what’s going on. But I think the important thing that [Colin] Kaepernick and others have done is to keep it in the conversation. When’s the last time you heard the name Michael Brown? With our 24/7 news, things seem to drift. We’re all trying to just exist and survive.
On police brutality and the lack of gun control.
It’s easier for white people because we haven’t lived that experience. It’s difficult for many white people to understand the day-to-day feeling that many black people have to deal with. It’s not just a rogue policeman, or a policeman exerting too much force or power, when we know that most of the police are just trying to do their job, which is very difficult. I’d be scared to death if I was a policeman and I stopped a car. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. And part of that in our country is exacerbated by the preponderance of guns that other countries don’t have to deal with. It gets very complicated.
At this point, when somebody like Kaepernick brings attention to this, and others who have, it makes people have to face the issue because it’s too easy to let it go because it’s not their daily experience. If it’s not your daily experience, you don’t understand it. I didn’t talk to my kids about how to act in front of a policeman when you get stopped. I didn’t have to do that. All of my black friends have done that. There’s something that’s wrong about that, and we all know that. What’s the solution? Nobody has figured it out. But for sure, the conversation has to stay fresh, it has to stay continuous, it has to be persistent, and we all have a responsibility to make sure that happens in our communities.
On protesting and the lack of constructive political discourse in the country.
I think to each his own. I think it depends on a person’s life experience, and what they value, and how strongly they feel about it. I don’t think a condemnation of any sort of act should happen until it’s thought out. For instance, with Kaepernick, a pretty good group of people immediately thought he was disrespecting the military. It had nothing to do with his protest. In fact, he was able to do what he did because of what the military does for us. Most thinking people understand that, but there’s always going to be an element that wants to jump on a bandwagon, and that’s what’s unfortunate about our country. It’s gotten to a point where the civility and the level of discourse is basically in the gutter.
I saw a wonderful clip on the news the other day, a split screen of Al Gore and George Bush, and they were debating. President Bush was saying something, and the split screen showed Al Gore sigh and shake his head. The commentator at the time said, “That’s rude, that rudeness isn’t going to fly.” Compare that to now. It’s scary, it’s scary. It makes you think a little bit about who you’re supporting.
On whether he would watch the first presidential debate, which took place on September 26.
I am going to have Serbian tacos, beers and cokes, and I’m watching every second of it.