Black History Month vital in 'racist country' like US, says Spurs' Gregg Popovich

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The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Gregg Popovich is regarded as one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time. </span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Darren Abate/AP</span>
Gregg Popovich is regarded as one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time. Photograph: Darren Abate/AP

The San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has endorsed the NBA’s promotion of Black History Month, and offered a searing indictment of race relations in the US.

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“The league is made up of a lot of black guys. To honor [Black History Month] and understand it is pretty simplistic,” he said before the Spurs’ game against Utah Jazz on Monday. “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.”

Popovich, who has won five NBA titles with the Spurs, also spoke about white privilege in the US. “If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society,” Popovich said. “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.”

Popovich is known for his sometimes testy relationship with the press but has chosen to speak out on a number of occasions on social issues in America. Much of his vitriol has been reserved for Donald Trump. “This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others,” he said in October.

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