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Gregg Popovich reflects on Black History Month, white privilege, and our 'national sin'

The Spurs coach both set a record on Thursday and gave an amazingly thoughtful monologue on race in America.

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Popovich has more frequently discussed social and political issues during pregame interviews this season. On Thursday, he was asked what Black History Month means to him. His response was just as strikingly thoughtful as you’d expect.

“Well, it’s a remembrance, and a bit of a celebration in some ways. It sounds odd because we’re not there yet, but it’s always important to remember what has passed and what is being experienced now by the black population. It’s a celebration of some of the good things that have happened, and a reminder that there’s a lot more work to do.

“But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that,’ or, ‘Do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is, ‘You’re damned right we do.’”

Popovich then discussed systemic racism and white privilege.

“Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic, in the sense that when you talk about opportunity, it’s not about, ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash.

“If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage — educationally, economically, culturally, in this society 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.”

Finally, Popovich brought it back around to politics and President Donald Trump, who the Spurs coach has frequently criticized.

“And it’s in our national discourse. We have a president of the United States who spent four or five years disparaging and trying to [delegitimize] our president. And we know that was a big fake. But still, [he] felt for some reason it had to be done. I can still remember a paraphrase close to a quote ‘investigators were sent to Hawaii and you cannot believe what they found.’ Well, that was a lie. So if it’s being discussed and perpetrated at that level, you’ve got a national problem.”

President Trump also commented on Black History Month this week.

On Thursday night, Popovich tied Jerry Sloan for the record for the most games won by a coach with a single franchise (1,127).