POPOVICH SLAMS ‘COWARDS’
Spurs’ coach says Texas Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick are scared of Trump, have botched pandemic response
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich slammed Texas’ two top elected leaders’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “all about politics” and called them “cowards” for aligning themselves with President Donald Trump and not with medical professionals.
“We’ve been all over the map in Texas,” Popovich said in a videoconference with reporters Wednesday from the NBA bubble in Florida. “Nobody knows what the hell is going on.”
Popovich, a frequent critic of Trump, said Gov. Greg Abbott appears to vacillate in his efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Texas while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is undermining the efforts of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief infectious disease official.
“The governor goes back and forth based on whether he has to satisfy Trump or listen to the numbers,” Popovich said. “Politics show maybe he better do this because the virus has done that. But no overall policy, no principle. It’s all about politics.”
John Wittman, Abbott’s spokesman, said the governor had no plans to respond to Popovich’s comments. Patrick’s office did not respond to a text message seeking a response.
In an appearance on Fox News this month, Patrick said Fauci “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and “has been wrong every time on every issue.”
Popovich offered a caustic assessment of the lieutenant governor’s comments.
“That makes a lot of sense,” he said. “How safe can that be? The messaging is ridiculous.”
Popovich frequently weighs in on political matters. In a video released by the Spurs last month, Popovich aligned himself with the demonstrators protesting the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died as a white police officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes May 25 in Minneapolis.
“It’s got to be us that speak truth to power, that call it out no matter the consequences,” Popovich said in the video, adding that Floyd’s death made him “embarrassed as a white person.”
“We have to not let anything go. Our country is in trouble, and the basic reason is race.”
On the response to the pandemic in Texas, Popovich said, “It’s all about politics.”
“It’s all about what’s good for them,” he said. “And ‘them’ means Trump. Because they’re all cowards, and they’re all afraid.”
Zion leaves bubble for family matter
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson left the NBA’s campus site Wednesday because of what the team called “an urgent family medical matter.”
The Pelicans added that Williamson “intends to rejoin the team in Orlando for the NBA restart at a later date.” The Pelicans have scrimmages against the Nets (July 22), Nuggets (July 25) and Bucks (July 27) before their opener against the Lakers on July 30, when the league restarts its season.
“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”
According to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, all players are expected to remain on campus. But the protocols say that players can leave for extenuating circumstances and “only with prior league approval for such extenuating circumstances.”
If Williamson returns to campus, he is subject to enhanced COVID-19 testing. He could also be subject to a 10-day quarantine when he returns. Williamson could spend only four days in quarantine when he returns, however, as long as he undergoes COVID-19 testing each day he is off campus and returns a negative test. This procedure requires approval by an infectious disease doctor.
Harden back with Rockets
NBA scoring leader James Harden of the Rockets practiced with his team for the first time in more than four months Thursday, saying his arrival at the league’s restart bubble was delayed by family issues. Harden arrived this week, satisfied his league-mandated quarantine requirements and got cleared to participate. He has been working out but said Thursday was his first time playing five-on-five basketball with contact in more than a month. His arrival means Houston finally has half of its starting backcourt. On Monday, guard Russell Westbrook revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19. It’s not known when Westbrook will be ready to arrive.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had some harsh words for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (bottom photo, right) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (left).