SAN ANTONIO – Saying the results of Tuesday’s presidential election made him sick to his stomach, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich blasted President-elect Donald Trump and the people who voted for him in a six-minute diatribe Friday night during his pregame session with the media.
Popovich ended his comments by saying “my biggest fear is we are Rome,” referring to the empire that decayed from within.
Popovich was talking about Friday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons at the AT&T Center when a reporter asked him about his thoughts about the election.
“You give me way too much credit,” Popovich said. “I don’t think my voice is that important, but I’ve spoken on this before and probably will again. But right now I’m just trying to formulate thoughts. It’s too early.”
Then Popovich, who has been outspoken on race and social issues throughout his long career with the Spurs, unloaded on Trump and questioned how Americans could have made him the leader of the free world.
“I’m still sick to my stomach, not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but [the] disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been made: xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic,” Popovich said. “And I live in that country, where half the people ignored all that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part about the whole thing to me.
“It's got nothing to do with the environment or Obamacare, all the other stuff. We live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold all our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump."
Popovich also questioned why evangelical Christians, a big voting bloc for Trump, would support him.
“I look at the evangelicals and I wonder, those values don’t mean anything to them?” Popovich said. “All those values to me are more important than anybody’s skill in business or anything else, because it tells who we are and how we want to live, what kind of people we are.”
Trump met with President Obama in the White House on Thursday and with Republican leaders at the capitol later.
“I get it. Of course, we want him to successful,” Popovich said. “We’re all going to say that. Everybody wants him to be successful. It’s our country. We don’t want it to go down the drain. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion. It does not take away the fact that he used that fear-mongering, all the comments, from day one. The race-baiting and trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate.
“It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living, and with whom I’m living. The fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team and we’re all going to be ‘Kumbaya’ now trying to make it good without talking about any of those things. Now that we see that he’s already backing off on immigration, on Obamacare and other things. So was it a big fake, which makes you feel it's even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up to get elected.”
Popovich expressed frustration that things will go on as usual without a meaningful dialogue about the toxic nature of Trump’s comments on the campaign trail.
“What gets lost in the process are African-Americans, and Hispanics and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person," he said. “I mean, come on, that’s what the seventh-, eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected President of the United States.
“We would've scolded our kids. We would've had discussions and talked until we were blue in the face, trying to get them to understand these things. And he is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.”
A reporter tried to ask a question, but Popovich quickly cut him off.
“I’m not done,” he said. “One could go on and on. We didn’t make this stuff up. He’s angry at the media because they reported what he said, and how he acted. It's ironic to me. It makes no sense. So that’s my real fear and that’s what gives me so much pause, and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that's necessary to understand other group situations.
“I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, an Hispanic, a handicapped person – how disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all that"
Then Popovich ended it with one more biting comment on the matter:
“And so my final conclusion is my biggest fear is we are Rome.”