San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Sunday called President Donald Trump "cowardly" and "impotent" compared to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in the wake of the league's strained relationship with China.
What's the background?
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey on Oct. 6 tweeted his support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests against China. The NBA initially rebuked Morey for offending China and Chinese basketball fans, but later Silver announced his support for Morey and free speech — which prompted China to stop broadcasting NBA preseason games.
Praising Silver as a "progressive" leader for his stance, Popovich on Tuesday also managed to get in a number of digs against Trump.
"Then you compare [Silver] to what we've had to live through the past three years, it's a big difference," Popovich said, according to the San Antonio Express-News. "A big gap there, leadership-wise and courage-wise. It wasn't easy for him to say. He said that in an environment fraught with possible economic peril. But he sided with the principles that we all hold dearly, or most of us did until the last three years. I'm thrilled with what he said. The courage and leadership displayed is off the charts by comparison."
In response, Trump criticized Popovich and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, saying they "talk badly about the United States — but when [they] talk about China, they don't want to say anything bad," Reuters reported.
How did Popovich respond to Trump?
When asked Sunday to comment about Trump's criticism of him and Kerr, Popovich called the president "feckless, impotent, and cowardly."
"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 or North Korea or Russia or Turkey, whatever it is," Popovich told reporters. "It comes off as pretty feckless, impotent, and cowardly by comparison."
Popovich added, "But [Silver] stood by our nation and its principles. That's pretty huge in these days. Sometimes it's kind of Orwellian. You think we're living in a place where, 'Is this really happening?' But that comparison is pretty stark when you put our president up against those leaders when he's with them or talking to them and how he reacts compared to the way Adam Silver reacted. I was proud of him. It was great."
Here's audio of Popovich's statement to the media:
Gregg Popvich responds to President Donald Trump's criticism of the NBA's China controversy youtu.be
What else has Popovich said?
The staunchly left-wing Popovich has never been one to hold back his opinions regarding culture and politics, particularly his disdain for Trump:
- Last year just before the November election, Popovich wore a "BETO" hat and admitted he was endorsing Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke in his United States Senate race against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R).
- In March 2018, Popovich questioned the usefulness of the Second Amendment: "Does it serve its purpose the way it was supposed to do in the beginning? That discussion should be had. Is one life more important than some congressman keeping his position because he's afraid he won't get funds from the NRA? It's a dereliction of duty on the part of everybody around Trump."
- During Black History Month in 2018, Popovich said "we live in a racist country."
- In October 2017, Popovich called Trump a "soulless coward" and a "pathological liar" after the president said he'd been calling wounded soldiers when past presidents hadn't.
- Popovich in September 2017 said "our country is an embarrassment in the world" following Trump's criticisms of NFL players who took a knee for the national anthem. He also called attention to the president's "childishness and the gratuitous fear-mongering and race-baiting [that] has been so consistent that it's almost expected."
- Days after the 2016 presidential election, he said Trump's victory made him ill.