Popovich on playing on MLK Day: "If someone says that they're not a racist, you know that they are." pic.twitter.com/0s3uyW0Pzq— KL Chouinard (@KLChouinard) January 15, 2018
On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs were in Atlanta to face the Hawks, and the head coach took some time to talk about the civil rights leader’s legacy.
Popovich spent the interview looking back at King’s resolve and commitment to the civil rights movement. However, his admiration was tapered due to today’s political climate. He says the country still has work to do in order to continue the work King dedicated his life to:
His persistence, as I look back, at unbelievably young age, when he started peaceful protests, it wasn’t just for the black population. He understood that racism was our national sin, and if we didn’t come together, it would bring everybody down — including white people. And that promise that he basically demanded everyone fulfill from way back when is what put us on the road to making American great.
At the same time, we all know the situation now. I think he’d be a very, very sad man to see that a lot of his efforts have been held up and torn down. It doesn’t matter whether you look at the Voting Rights Act or the ridiculous number of people who are incarcerated. You could go on and on. We all know that its gotten to the point where it’s almost boring for people to listen to. But it’s insidious and it’s our national sin that we have to work on.
Every time I hear somebody say that they’re not racist, you know that they are. So those are some of the thoughts that I have on this day. You want to be happy for some things, but current circumstances make it difficult to clap too much.
During this interview, he was also asked where he was when he first learned of King’s assassination in Memphis in 1968:
I can remember sitting in a room with other second classmen, or juniors, I should say. And it was just more disbelief than anything, especially given the speech that he had already given. It was just (inaudible). It was sadness. That’s what I remember.
Popovich is one of various NBA personalities to speak on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday. LeBron James also shared some words earlier today.