If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook (you definitely should), you’re likely aware that I’m a huge San Antonio Spurs fan. A sports franchise that’s often ranked as one of the most respected in the country, for two decades the team’s been led by its coach, Gregg Popovich, one of the most respected and admired coaches in all of professional sports.
A graduate of the Air Force Academy, an extremely intelligent individual, and one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, when Popovich speaks, people often listen. The thing is, he hasn’t really been known as someone to embrace or stir up controversy. At least not outside of his sideline or post game interviews where his dry, sometimes grumpy sense of humor has rubbed a few folks the wrong way.
That’s why I’ve been rather surprised to see him speak out so strongly — and frequently — against Donald Trump.
For example, on Monday when he absolutely slammed Trump’s comments about the four soldiers who were killed in Niger earlier this month, calling him a “soulless coward” for trying to slander past presidents Obama and Bush by claiming that they never contacted the families of soldiers who had died in combat.
From remarks he made to Dave Zirin at The Nation:
Maybe it was the bald-faced nature of this lie. Maybe it is Pop’s own history in the military, but the Coach clearly had to vent. He said, “I want to say something and please just let me talk and please make sure this is on the record.”
I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this President had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families, is so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.
This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner–and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers–is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this President should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.
Again, that’s a graduate from the Air Force Academy, someone who served five years of active duty after graduating with a degree in Soviet Studies and went through Air Force intelligence gathering and processing training, something Trump damn sure didn’t do, who made these comments. So I don’t want to see anyone say Popovich is “just a coach who should keep to what he knows.”
While I’m sure Trump supporters will dismiss Popovich’s comments as some sort of partisan attack, that’s pure nonsense. He was coach of the Spurs during George W. Bush’s eight years in office and I don’t recall him saying anything negative about that former Republican president. In fact, the Spurs and Popovich visited the Bush White House several times after they won the NBA championship. If you look at what Popovich said, he’s not using hyper-partisan political rhetoric to criticize Trump. He defended both Obama and Bush (as well as all former presidents, for that matter) against the current “president’s” baseless slander.
This was Popovich, a former member of the United States Air Force, expressing something that he clearly feels very strongly about concerning a “president” he knows is “unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically” to hold that office. Not because Trump’s a member of the GOP — but because Popovich, like many people in this country and all over the world (including quite a few Republicans), knows that he has absolutely no business being the “President” of the United States.
It’s obvious he took a lot of offense to Trump turning the subject of his response to these four brave men who died fighting for this country into a petty, shameful spectacle where he further divided people, slandered past presidents, and spent most of the time trying to make himself look good.