San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich said during an interview last week that he was “thrilled” Austin voted to cut a third of the city’s police budget, called President Trump “obviously racist” and gave a brief history lesson on voter suppression in America.
Popovich, a candid Trump critic, spoke to reporters in his final pregame media availability of the season Thursday while wearing a black T-shirt with white lettering that read, “Vote, your life depends on it.”
After Popovich brought up recent social justice issues, a KENS-TV reporter asked the coach about his feelings on the Austin City Council’s decision to slash its police budget by about a third, or $150 million, and redirect the funds to housing initiatives and violence prevention.
“I think that’s the key, very frankly,” Popovich said. “Obviously nothing’s happening from the top, we have a president who is obviously racist by any measure, so the local grassroots politicians have to take the lead and I’m thrilled at the notion of the two actions that have just been taken.”
Earlier in the media availability, Popovich gave an explanation of his shirt after another reporter asked a question about basketball.
“If you don’t mind,” said the longtime coach, “I wore this shirt today just because as you know, while we’re here, we’re trying to make sure that the momentum continues and we don’t forget about the tragedies that have been happening for the Black community for so long.”
He said there was an incident in Brookhaven, Miss., in 1955 when a man named Lamar Smith was shot and killed for registering Black people to vote. He said a jury of 20 White men found they could not bring charges in the case and no justice was ever found.
“I just want to bring that up as a reminder to everybody, that this fight has been going on for a long time, and we can’t let people who want to suppress the vote win the day,” the 71-year-old said.
Popovich also said he hopes the San Antonio City Council approves a pending resolution that seeks to declare racism a public health crisis in the city.
The Spurs would go on to lose to the Utah Jazz by a score of 112 to 118.
The Spurs were officially ousted from entering the NBA Playoffs before the game even began when the final scores of two earlier games showed Memphis beat Milwaukee, and Phoenix beat Dallas. The outcomes ended San Antonio’s record-tying run of 22 consecutive playoff appearances.