San Antonio Spurs: The importance of Gregg Popovich’s sociopolitical sincerity

DONGGUAN, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of USA looks on during shootaround on September 11, 2019 at the Dongguan Basketball Center in Dongguan, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
DONGGUAN, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of USA looks on during shootaround on September 11, 2019 at the Dongguan Basketball Center in Dongguan, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Although he’s here for basketball purposes, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s voice extends far beyond the hardwood.

The outspoken tendencies of Gregg Popovich are no surprise at all – the 70-year-old’s political views have been out in the open for quite some time and his voice carries weight amongst the NBA community. Any time there’s a larger issue at hand, reporters will flock to Spurs media sessions to pick the brain of the mastermind behind San Antonio’s dynasty.

Popovich’s corporate knowledge extends far beyond the basketball court. As part of his program, Popovich ensures his players will be enriched in culture, politics, social trends and the greater scope of the world they live in.

As a result, Pop’s political views are oftentimes propelled to the forefront of the NBA news cycle. Now, in a time when contentious views and free speech are being questioned around the league because of geopolitical contention with China, Popovich’s voice is more important than ever.

Was asked by some for the beginning of Gregg Popovich Q/A yesterday about NBA, Adam Silver, China controversy, so here it is. pic.twitter.com/Ju0xR4qgr4

— Will Manso (@WillMansoWPLG) October 9, 2019

After years of openly renouncing the President of the United States’ divisive ways, Popovich was finally targeted by the POTUS for his recent comments on the NBA’s interactions with China. He claimed that Popovich, along with his close friend and former Spur Steve Kerr, were “pandering” to the Chinese while remaining open to criticizing the United States government and the issues that plague it.

President Trump criticizes Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich — both vocal critics of Trump — when asked about China putting pressure on the NBA: "They talk badly about the United States, but when it talks about China, they don't want to say anything bad" https://t.co/rR2dKOelYD pic.twitter.com/am9hMQcGG3

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 9, 2019

In his response to the NBA’s handling of this situation in China, Pop commended Adam Silver for recognizing the importance of free speech, as well as his continued dedication to making the NBA an open-minded, progressive league across the board. He didn’t get into specifics regarding China, but it’s also not necessary for him to give his two cents on the subject matter since they’re unrelated to his own country and expertise.

Popovich is more inclined to speak on domestic issues within the United States because it’s the country that he served for as a member of the Air Force in the Seventies. He has continuously exercised his platform as a noteworthy public figure to spread his beliefs on issues within the U.S., many of which were inspired by Trump’s regime and the racist underbelly that’s reared its ugly head since the 2016 election.

Regardless of political affiliation, Spurs fans know that Popovich is a sincere individual who cares deeply about people, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum or within the landscape of basketball. As an opinionated, well-informed individual, Pop is the type of person who should be speaking on these issues.

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Political discourse within sports has erupted since Trump was elected. The ‘shut up and dribble’ narrative has extended beyond players and across the national landscape because people of differing sociopolitical opinions don’t like what their favorite players and coaches may have to say.

Everyone has the right to free speech in the United States, whether that’s Popovich speaking his mind on political issues or Daryl Morey tweeting his support for Hong Kong. No one can take that from the U.S. population – not China, not the NBA and not the President.

It’s important that Pop continues to speak his mind so that he can empower other people within sports to utilize their platforms and speak their minds. Even for those that disagree with Pop’s opinions, it’s important that the U.S. population learns to listen to each other in order to broaden horizons and create a more well-informed, united public population.

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Without great citizens like Popovich making their voices heard and spreading ideas through peaceful, healthy discourse, the attributes that make this country so great will fail to be realized in the wide medium of sports. That would be a tremendous waste of potential.

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