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Gregg Popovich speaks at length about Black History Month

Gregg Popovich has never been reticent about expressing his opinions concerning issues of personal and political importance. And the San Antonio Spurs head coach continued to do so prior to Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

With Feb. 1 ushering in Black History Month earlier this week, Popovich spoke thoughtfully and philosophically about its meaning as a “remembrance and a bit of a celebration in some ways.” Pop stressed, however, that much work is left to be done in this country when it comes to getting past “our national sin.”

Popovich’s comments to Jabari Young of San Antonio Express-News in their entirety, as transcribed by ESPN via Deadspin:

“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. 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. 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 illegitimatize 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. I think that’s enough.”

Popovich’s comments obviously will be met with praise by some and derision by others. And there will be those who will criticize Popovich irrespective of political leanings for not “sticking to sports.” But Popovich clearly feels passionately about the issue and felt compelled to address it at length.