Gregg Popovich , a five-time NBA champion at the helm of the Spurs, never leaves anyone indifferent with his remarks. The 71-year-old coach is one of the most respected voices in sports in a country threatened these days by the disturbing shadow of racism. "As a target, I am ashamed" of George Floyd's death , he said Saturday.
The coach, who has led the Texas franchise since 1996, encouraged whites to step forward "regardless of the consequences" and help lead the change. "Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is racial. African Americans have borne this burden for 400 years," said 'Pop', considered one of the best in history, along with Phil Jackson or Red Auerbach .
"The most revealing moment of this tragedy was looking at the agent's face," he said, referring to Derek Chauvin , the white agent who choked Floyd after kneeling for more than eight minutes on his neck. "See how carefree he was, as if that were the most normal thing in his day to day, so much as to put his left hand in his pocket as to give that person a kind of lesson," he added, scandalized.
"I never thought I'd see this"
Following the May 25 events in Minneapolis, Chauvin faces an accusation of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, while three other police officers were charged with incitement to murder and involuntary manslaughter.
"I feel ashamed as a target to know that this can happen. To see a lynching in reality. In the books we had seen black people hanging from the trees. But I never thought I would see it with my own eyes," explains the third coach with more victories in NBA history, only behind Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens .
Popovich, who in 2017 assumed the leadership of the US team, believes that the "only reason" why his country progressed was "because of the persistence, patience, and effort of African-Americans." Following the departure of Mike Krzyzewski , the author of a record 73 wins and a single loss, Team USA could only finish seventh in the China World Cup.
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