An American Original

Yesterday was Media Day for the San Antonio Spurs, which means you’d expect it to be Gregg Popovich’s least favorite day of the year. I mean if the guy can’t stand a 2-question in-game interview, what’s he going to do with a full day dedicated to the media?

Does this sound like a guy who relishes the chance to spend a day with journos?

 

But he was there yesterday. And the guy who is famous for yelling, “I want some nasty!” At his tea, brought some nasty. Not for his team, not for the media, but for the president, for NASCAR, for Richard Petty, and for people who don’t think there’s a problem. It was molten hot lava.

“The childishness and the gratuitous fear-mongering and race-baiting has been so consistent that it’s almost expected.”

But that was nothing compared to some of the other remarks from the Air Force Academy graduate who served five years in the military:

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

“So you 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 people are more important, that the decent America that we all thought we had and we want is more important, and get down to the business at the grassroots level and do what we have to do.”

If you thought he got bent about being asked about shooting percentages during the middle of games, Pop was even more bent about Trump un-inviting the Warriors to the White House, calling it “disgusting … Comical … Like a sixth-grader who was going to have a party in his backyard and he finds out somebody might not come, so he dis-invites him.”

And then, he dropped some serious knowledge on race: “Obviously, race is the elephant in the room, and we all understand that unless it is talked about constantly, it is not going to get better. People get bored, ‘Oh, is it that again? They are pulling the race card.’ Because it’s uncomfortable, there has be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change. Whether it is LGBT, women’s suffrage, race, [it] doesn’t matter. People have to be made to feel uncomfortable; especially white people. We still have no clue what being born white means.

“If you read some of the recent literature, there is no such thing as whiteness. But we made it up. Not my original thought, but it’s true. Because you were born white, you have advantages systemically, culturally, psychology there. They have been built up for hundreds of years. Many people can’t look at it. [It] can’t be something on their plate on a daily basis. People want their status quo. People don’t want to give it up. Until it’s given up, it’s not going to be fixed.”

Think about that. That’s a sociology lesson coming from the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs and USA Basketball. He’s talking about “recent literature” in the discussion of race and society. For all the comparisons that get made between Bill Belichick and Gregg Popovich for the success that they’ve had and for way they interact with the media, can you imagine the Hoodman standing up at media day and dropping, well, anything other than a few grumbles?

Is Belichick going with a history lesson about social structures or a discussion of supply-side economics? Can you imagine any NFL coach saying anything about anything that wasn’t football? I can’t recall the last time an NFL coach cited “recent literature” on any subject, let alone one as difficult and challenging as race, and white identity. And yet the guy who’d seemingly rather crack on reporters for what they’re wearing or how they ask a question, is just letting loose with sociological breakdowns. Gregg Popovich is a true American original.

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