For a lot of reasons, fair and unfair, Americans are none too pleased with their options in the upcoming presidential election.
Thankfully, one incredibly competent individual has, at the last minute, unknowingly thrown his spur-emblazoned cowboy hat into the ring.
Okay, okay. So maybe Gregg Popovich didn't formally suggest a bid for the top honor in the United States, and maybe he made absolutely no inclination toward eyeing the position whatsoever.
But at San Antonio Spurs media day, the head coach was predictably asked about Colin Kaepernick's protest of racial discrimination through kneeling during the national anthem, and his answers were so enlightened, he may be physically forced into the role.
Gregg Popovich full comments on race relations and national anthem protests (2/3): pic.twitter.com/i4Rd6t2xsB
— Casey Keirnan (@CaseyKeirnan) September 26, 2016
“I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done," he responded after being asked if he supports the athletes that are taking stands. "The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it. Whether it’s Dr. [Martin Luther] King getting large groups together and boycotting buses, or what’s happened in Carolina with the NBA and other organizations pulling events to make it known what’s going on. But I think the important thing that Kaepernick and others have done is to keep it in the conversation. When’s the last time you heard the name Michael Brown? With our 24/7 news, things seem to drift. We’re all trying to just exist and survive."
He then offered some perspective that not many in his position have when confronted with the topic: that he, as a white man, despite being a head coach in a league that is 75 percent black, lacks perspective when it comes to being black in America:
It’s easier for white people because we haven’t lived that experience. It’s difficult for many white people to understand the day-to-day feeling that many black people have to deal with. It’s not just a rogue policeman, or a policeman exerting too much force or power, when we know that most of the police are just trying to do their job, which is very difficult. I’d be scared to death if I was a policeman and I stopped a car. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. And part of that in our country is exacerbated by the preponderance of guns that other countries don’t have to deal with. It gets very complicated.
At this point, when somebody like Kaepernick brings attention to this, and others who have, it makes people have to face the issue because it’s too easy to let it go because it’s not their daily experience. If it’s not your daily experience, you don’t understand it. I didn’t talk to my kids about how to act in front of a policeman when you get stopped. I didn’t have to do that. All of my black friends have done that. There’s something that’s wrong about that, and we all know that. What’s the solution? Nobody has figured it out. But for sure, the conversation has to stay fresh, it has to stay continuous, it has to be persistent, and we all have a responsibility to make sure that happens in our communities.
In other words: "I get it. I don't get it."
Popovich, who served five years in the Air Force after graduating from the Air Force Academy, where he played basketball, also pushed back on the idea that protesters are attempting to denegrate the nation's armed forces.
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) September 26, 2016
“I think to each his own. I think it depends on a person’s life experience, and what they value, and how strongly they feel about it," he said of Kaepernick's chosen form of protest. "I don’t think a condemnation of any sort of act should happen until it’s thought out. For instance, with Kaepernick, a pretty good group of people immediately thought he was disrespecting the military. It had nothing to do with his protest. In fact, he was able to do what he did because of what the military does for us. Most thinking people understand that, but there’s always going to be an element that wants to jump on a bandwagon, and that’s what’s unfortunate about our country. It’s gotten to a point where the civility and the level of discourse is basically in the gutter."
Popovich's brilliant answers had at least one reporter on hand thinking White House:
Have you ever considered running for president. After all, you know how to win.
[Popovich laughs.] “Very clever, very clever. You all know me…I’d get in trouble real quickly.”
There are bumper stickers around town that say, “Popovich for President.” Have you seen them?
“I have. Very flattering, but misplaced. I’m not smart enough.”
Were you born in this country? Where’s your birth certificate?
[Popovich laughs.] “I was going to bring it, but I lost it.”
For more Pop wisdom, read the full transcript from the San Antonio Express-News.