Before his San Antonio Spurs suffered the gut-checking loss of star player Kawhi Leonard, and in turn blew a 25-point lead in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, head coach Gregg Popovich essentially accused President Donald Trump of taking his position less seriously than his players are taking the NBA playoffs.
Much like in January, when Popovich called Trump’s immaturity “dangerous” after being asked about the nationwide Women’s March, Pop wasn’t asked specifically about the commander in chief. Instead, before Game 1 a reporter asked the five-time NBA champion and U.S. Air Force veteran if he gets distracted by things outside of sports.
While he didn’t mention the president by name, his allusions were hardly coded.
“It’s interesting you would ask that,” Popovich responded. “Usually things happen in the world, and you go to work, you know, and you’ve got your family and you’ve got your friends and you do what you do, but to this day I feel like there’s a cloud, a pall over the whole country—in a paranoid, surreal sort of way. It’s got nothing to do with the Democrats losing the election. It’s got to do with the way one individual conducts himself. And that’s embarrassing, it’s dangerous to our institutions and what we all stand for, what we expect the country to be. But for this individual, he’s in a game show. And everything that happens begins and ends with him—not our people or our country. Every time he talks about those things, that’s just a ruse. That’s just disingenuous, cynical and fake.”
It’s looking more and more like, regardless of who wins the NBA championship, few of the victors will be on hand to be congratulated by the president. Warriors coach Steve Kerr might be the only NBA figure more outspoken against Trump than Popovich. And in the East, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson suggested back in November that the next four champions wouldn’t visit the White House.