San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich is almost as famous for speaking out about race relations as he is for winning championships.
Asked by a reporter for his thoughts on the NBA promoting Black History Month, the five-time NBA champion coach Popovich let loose with the truth. “I think it’s pretty obvious. The league is made up of a lot of Black guys. To honor [Black History Month] and understand it is pretty simplistic. 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.”
Of course, Popovich isn’t the first NBA coach to speak out about the tortured state of race relations in America. Former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, who consistently called out the Confederate statues in Memphis, told TNT’s David Aldridge last year, “I want people to be uncomfortable. Our owner (Robert Pera), the owner of FedEx, our White owners of all the companies in the city, they’re the ones who have to step up and clean this out of our city. Money talks.”
In December Memphis took down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and one of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.
And while it would be nice if Fizdale’s comments received as much as attention as Popovich’s, that is not the world we live in. As ESPN’s Bomani Jones said on Twitter, “So, on the one hand, it’s really dope that pop [Popovich] is willing to speak this truth. On the other, there’s a disappointing irony that ppl [people] would rather hear about black history month from someone who isn’t black.”