Gregg Popovich is a marvelous basketball coach; probably one of the three best the NBA has ever seen. His accomplishments with the San Antonio Spurs — a team he has led to five NBA titles — are remarkable.
Lately Popovich has indulged in political commentary. To be more precise, he has taken to blasting President Trump.
There is plenty to dislike about Trump, but Popovich’s comments are of the knee-jerk variety. Worse, they play fast and loose with the facts.
Consider his latest shot at the president:
We all hope President Trump is successful. We hope he does some good things for everybody, but he didn’t start the presidency by mollifying any groups he disparaged during the campaign.
He didn’t say anything about women, or black people, or Mexican people, Hispanic people LGBT people, handicapped people. [He] acted like it never happened. So that willingness to do whatever it took to get elected, to say and act the way he did, I thought was unacceptable and really disgusting, so I said it.
When did Trump disparage LGBT people during the campaign? This is what Trump said about them during his acceptance speech at the GOP convention:
Whether you’re gay or straight, the Bill of Rights protects the rights of all of us to live according to our conscience.
As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me.
When did Trump disparage black people during the campaign? He noted that many predominantly black neighborhoods are in terrible shape, which I think is indisputable, and he vowed to try to improve these neighborhoods. But disparaging black people? I don’t think it happened.
During the campaign, Trump disparaged Megyn Kelly, Hillary Clinton, Rosie O’Donnell, and other individual women. He also disparaged individual men too numerous to list.
However, the only disparagement of women as a group that I can think of occurred many years before the campaign in his “pussy grabbing” remarks. This comment did not manifest “a willingness to say anything to get elected.” It was made in private long before he ran for office. As a candidate, Trump apologized for these disparaging comments.
What about Popovich’s claim that Trump “didn’t start the presidency by mollifying any groups” he supposedly “disparaged during the campaign”? Trump started his presidency with his brief inauguration address, during which he said this:
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
I don’t know whether this statement “mollified” members of groups who felt “disparaged” by Trump. Many of them are probably beyond being mollified. It was, however, a clear statement that these groups and others should not be mistreated or disparaged.
With regard to Mexicans, a week after his inauguration Trump said this:
I have great respect for Mexico. I love the Mexican people. I work with the Mexican people all the time – great relationships.
During the campaign, Trump had disparaged Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. As president, though, Trump tweeted this:
Yes, it is true – Carlos Slim, the great businessman from Mexico, called me about getting together for a meeting. We met, HE IS A GREAT GUY!
Turning to what Popovich calls “LBGQT people,” we find that the White House issued this statement:
President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.
I don’t blame Popovich for not knowing much about what President Trump has said and done as a candidate or as president. He has his hands full figuring out how to contain Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and the collection of stars who play for Golden State. But maybe he should have someone do a little research before he spouts off about politics.
Indeed, it’s ironic that Popovich would discuss politics so ignorantly. He is famous for putting sports reporters down when they ask obvious questions about his tactics. For example:
One reporter asked if Pop had any regrets going with a smaller lineup.
Pop’s reply: “No. Are you coaching now? You should try not to do that.”
Note the clear difference between what the reporter did to Popovich and what Popovich is doing to Trump. The sports reporter observed the game and posed a reasonable question. Popovich, who derided the reporters for performing their job, pays scant attention to what the Trump administration has done and makes accusations.
During his latest anti-Trump diatribe, Popovich said “there’s going to be somebody who will say “just go coach your basketball team.” I’m not that “somebody.” I say, if you want to talk politics intelligently, do your homework.