Popovich rips 'deranged' Trump for lack of leadership

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich directs his team in the fourth quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Feb. 21, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jeffrey Swinger / USA TODAY Sports

Enraged San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sharply criticized the lack of leadership shown by President Donald Trump and called him a coward in the wake of week-long protests surrounding the death of George Floyd.

Popovich told The Nation that Trump is "deranged" and incapable of saying "black lives matter" at a time when the nation desperately needs to hear those words from the leader of the country.

"It's unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people," Popovich told reporter Dave Zirin. "But he doesn't care about bringing people together. Even now. That's how deranged he is. It's all about him. It's all about what benefits him personally. It's never about the greater good. And that's all he's ever been."

Nationwide protests and demonstrations have erupted since Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 while white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

Popovich, a staunch critic of Trump, views the president as a detriment to the country.


"He's not just divisive. He's a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die," Popovich told The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin. "He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I'm appalled that we have a leader who can't say 'black lives matter.' That's why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward.

"He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler. Actually, I think it's best to ignore him. There is nothing he can do to make this better because of who he is: a deranged idiot."

Popovich, who has won five NBA titles with the Spurs and ranks third all-time with 1,272 regular-season victories, said Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are failing at leadership.

"It's so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that 'black lives matter,'" Popovich said. "Just say those three words. But he won't and he can't. He can't because it's more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity. But it's more than just Trump. The system has to change. I'll do whatever I can do to help, because that's what leaders do. But he can't do anything to put us on a positive path, because he's not a leader.

"It's like what (Senators) Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz used to say when they had the courage to say it: He's unfit. But they have chosen instead to be invisible and obsequious in the face of this carnage. In the end, what we have is a fool in place of a president, while the person who really runs the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, destroys the United States for generations to come.

"McConnell has destroyed and degraded our judicial system. He has tried to destroy heath care. He's destroyed the environment. He's the master and Trump's the stooge, and what's funny is that Trump doesn't even know it. Trump's always wanted to be part of the in-group, but McConnell is an in-group of one and Trump plays the fool."

As for the protests surrounding Floyd's death, Popovich said those are needed but he would like to see better organization.

"It's frustrating. When Dr. (Martin Luther) King did a protest, you knew when to show, when to come back the next day. But if you're just organizing protests and everyone is coming and going in every direction, it doesn't work that way. If it was nonviolent, they knew to be nonviolent, but this is muddled.


"More leadership would be very welcome so these incredible mass demonstrations can't be used by people for other means. We can limit the bad, but only if things are organized better."

The whole situation is frustrating to Popovich.

"We need change. The system has to change. I'm willing to do my part."

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