The NBA’s ongoing controversy with China has evolved into a global fiasco, and President Donald Trump’s opinions on the situation have complicated matters more.
Now comes the latest salvo between the league and the president, as San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich clarified his thoughts.
In speaking to the media before Sunday’s preseason game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Popovich repeated that he thought NBA commissioner Adam Silver came out strongly for free speech. Earlier he had complimented Silver on his progressive bona fides and leadership qualities.
“[Silver] stood by our nation and its principles. That's pretty huge in these days,” Popovich said, via ESPN. “Sometimes, it's kind of Orwellian. You think we’re living in a place where, ‘Is this really happening?’ But that comparison was pretty stark when you put our president up against those leaders when he’s with them or talking to him and how he reacts compared to the way Adam Silver reacted. I was proud of him. It was great.”
Popovich and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr have received some backlash for keeping their thoughts on Hong Kong’s autonomy and China’s human rights violations to themselves, despite being open about gun violence and police brutality.
Trump has sided with China over democratic protestors and even reportedly promised Chinese president Xi Jinping to stay silent on the issue before Morey’s comments blew up.
“All I did was make a comparison between Adam Silver’s show of principle and courage in a tough situation, as opposed to how our president reacts when in the company of authoritarian figures, whether it’s Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Russia or Turkey, whatever it is,” Popovich said. “It comes off as really feckless, impotent, cowardly by comparison.”
More from Yahoo Sports: