Crucial to speak out, Popovich says
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.