When it comes to NBA coaches, there isn’t a more respected one than Gregg Popovich. The hard-nosed leader of the San Antonio Spurs is the league’s equivalent of Bill Belichick. Over the years, he’s cultivated and sustained a culture that preaches respect, humility, and toughness.
But the 71-year-old is more than just a basketball coach. His wisdom and unique way of thinking make him one of the most respected leaders in the sports world. As the United States and the world at large continue to deal with the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, everyone has focused on Donald Trump.
That includes Popovich, who has never been afraid to voice his opinion on controversial issues. Ironically, a man who is in charge of a basketball team delivered much more powerful words than the president of the United States. And in doing so, he showed how Trump could easily demonstrate effective leadership using just three words.
Gregg Popovich is one of the most respected coaches in NBA history
There’s no debate that Gregg Popovich ranks as one of, if not the best, head coaches in NBA history. He’s never had a losing season in 22 full seasons as the head coach of the Spurs. Just think about that for a minute.
When it comes to doing his job, Popovich is a master at his craft. Early in his career, he paired veteran David Robinson with a young Tim Duncan and won two NBA titles. Once The Admiral retired, Duncan took over as the face of the franchise.
In terms of a player-coach relationship, the Spurs couldn’t have dreamed for a better fit. Duncan never said much and instead led by example. Popovich may have been hard on his players, but the results always spoke for themselves.
A new era of Spurs basketball brought Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to the table. San Antonio’s talented trio went on to capture NBA championships in 2005, 2007, and 2014. Of course, the presence of Popovich played a pivotal role in the Spurs becoming an example of how a franchise should be run.
Popovich says Donald Trump needs to say just three words
Gregg Popovich deserves widespread respect for his leadership abilities. After all, you don’t build a basketball dynasty without being able to motivate men. However, a man who gets paid to coach a game shouldn’t have to tell the president how to do his job.
Popovich provided some eye-opening comments in a story by Dave Zirin of The Nation about Donald Trump and his response to the riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death. According to Popovich, Trump really only needs to say three words to show the leadership that America needs.
“It’s so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that black lives matter. Just say those three words. But he won’t, and he can’t. He can’t because it’s more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity. But it’s more than just Trump. The system has to change. I’ll do whatever I can do to help, because that’s what leaders do. But he can’t do anything to put us on a positive path, because he’s not a leader.
The Spurs coach didn’t hold back his criticism. In fact, he took it to the next level while referring to Trump as a “deranged idiot.”
“He’s not just divisive. He’s a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die. He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I’m appalled that we have a leader who can’t say, ‘Black lives matter.’ That’s why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward. He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler. Actually, I think it’s best to ignore him.”
Spurs head coach deserves praise for his strong stance on racism
Ultimately, the fact that an NBA coach has delivered the most powerful words about this issue speaks volumes about Donald Trump’s lack of leadership. Luckily, Gregg Popovich has always stood up for what’s right.
Three years ago, he spoke about some of the same issues that we are facing right now. In a press conference, the legendary NBA coach said, “Unless it is talked about constantly, it’s not gonna get better.”
Thanks in small part to Gregg Popovich, we are talking about the issue. Unfortunately, that responsibility shouldn’t have to fall on him.