Gregg Popovich is not holding back his criticism of President Donald Trump.
After Trump denounced the San Antonio Spurs head coach, along with the Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr for their responses to the ongoing situation between the NBA and China, Popovich contrasted Trump with NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Specifically, calling him “cowardly” and “impotent.”
Here is Popovich’s full quote in response to Trump, via Michael C. Wright of The San Antonio Express-News:
“I’m too busy. I have things to do. 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. It comes off as really feckless, impotent, cowardly by comparison. Adam Silver, that was fraught with economic peril, but he stood by our nation and its principles. That’s pretty huge these days. 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 reacts compared to the way Adam Silver reacted. I was proud of him. It was great.”
Trump Calls out Popovich and Kerr for Not Criticizing China
Popovich’s response came after Trump’s comments on the passive approach to the situation taken by Spurs and Warriors head coaches. Kerr even passed on a making a detailed comment, stating that he wanted to learn more about the situation first, as ESPN’s Nick Friedell reported.
Here are Trump’s original comments:
“They talk badly about the United States, but when it talks about China, they don’t want to say anything bad,” Trump said. “I thought it was pretty sad, actually. It’ll be very interesting.”
The President then took to Twitter to single out Kerr specifically.
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Controversy Sparked Due to Daryl Morey’s Tweet
If you’re wondering how Trump, Popovich and Kerr became entangled in a war of words over a situation overseas in China, it stemmed from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting protestors for pro-democracy in China.
Since that tweet, commissioner Adam Silver has made it clear that the NBA is not taking sides and that their players and coaches are allowed to have their own perspectives and opinions. China has reacted strongly to Morey’s tweet, pulling NBA games, as USA Today explained in a recent article.
“After Morey’s tweet, the Chinese authorities allowed an exhibition game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers to go on as scheduled in Shanghai on Thursday. But they took down promotional billboards and pulled the game from television.
So it has come to this. Not only are American companies expected to bend to the government’s way in China (which includes tech companies that assist in its internet censorship), now they are expected to be China’s speech police in democratic countries.”
The NBA may be a league centered on the simple game of basketball, but it’s now embroiled in a world of politics between two different countries with vastly different perspectives on how countries should be run.