Cru­cial to speak out, Popovich says

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - Wash­ing­ton Post

Whether by mak­ing a video or by tak­ing to the streets, coaches and ath­letes made their voices known as protests over the death of Ge­orge Floyd at the hands of Min­neapo­lis po­lice con­tin­ued in large cities and small towns across the United States.

Gregg Popovich, the coach of the San An­to­nio Spurs, shared his thoughts in a raw video in which he said he was em­bar­rassed “as a white per­son” that Floyd could die in such a “non­cha­lant” way as po­lice of­fi­cer Derek Chau­vin knelt on his neck for nearly nine min­utes.

Popovich called for white peo­ple to speak out “no mat­ter the con­se­quences” and called the killing a “lynch­ing.”

“In a strange, coun­ter­in­tu­itive sort of way, the best teach­ing mo­ment of this re­cent tragedy, I think, was the look on the of­fi­cer’s face,” Popovich, an Air Force Acad­emy grad­u­ate and out­spo­ken critic of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, said in an emo­tional video re­leased by the Spurs. “For white peo­ple to see how non­cha­lant, how ca­sual, just how ev­ery­day-go­ing-about-his job, so much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wrig­gle his knee around a lit­tle bit to teach this per­son some sort of a les­son — and that it was his right and his duty to do it, in his mind.

“I don’t know . ... I think I’m just em­bar­rassed as a white per­son to know that can hap­pen. To ac­tu­ally watch a lynch­ing.”

In Den­ver, over 70 Bron­cos play­ers, coaches and staff mem­bers wore T-shirts that bore the mes­sage “If you ain’t with us, you against us” as they marched with thou­sands of peo­ple. Join­ing play­ers Von Miller, Jeremiah At­taochu and Justin Sim­mons and oth­ers was coach Vic Fan­gio, who ear­lier apol­o­gized for say­ing there was “no dis­crim­i­na­tion” and “no racism” in the NFL in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of Floyd’s death May 25.

In Mil­wau­kee, a group of Bucks play­ers turned out for the protest in T-shirts that bore some of Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe.”

Ster­ling Brown, Donte Divin­cenzo, Brook Lopez, Frank Ma­son, Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo and his brother, Thana­sis, joined the crowd.

Gregg Popovich

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