San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, right, talks with referee Tom Washington during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, May 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Hey Gregg Popovich, You’re Part of the Problem

The San Antonio Spurs did their best Atlanta Falcons imitation in game one of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals when they found some way to blow a seemingly insurmountable 25-point lead to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. While typically the success or failure of a sports team comes down to the players, a coach can’t avoid some burden of blame for such an epic mental collapse.

But it was clear that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had more pressing issues on his mind on Sunday. In his pregame press conference, Pop revealed he was far more interested in conducting a political rally than concentrating on the job that he’s getting paid $55 million to do.

Looking increasingly like the conniving President Snow from the Hunger Games franchise, Popovich stewed,

I feel like there’s a cloud, a pall, over the whole country in a paranoid surreal sort of way. It’s got nothing to do with the Democrats losing the election.

A couple things about that:

  1. To the degree that Pop is right about the pall over our country, it might be helpful if he would recognize the important role that he and his players have, as entertainers, in helping the country through it.Rather than adding to the despair, they are entrusted with the responsibility of providing our weary countrymen an escape from their anxieties. It’s truly unfortunate to see them fail at such an important duty by dragging fans back into the “pall.”
  2. I think what Popovich means with the last sentence is that he isn’t just whining as a Democrat that his party lost. But the truth is that this cloud of uncertainty and unease in our country has a great deal to do with the Democrats losing the election. The Democrats lost because of what they had created during eight years of an extraordinarily divisive, agitating, and unlawfully authoritative administration.The acrimonious leadership of Obama led to the divided state of our country that resulted in the Democrats losing the election and the rise of Donald Trump.

Pop went on to lay out a personal undressing of President Trump:

It’s got to do with the way one individual conducts himself. And that’s embarrassing. It’s dangerous to our institutions and what we all stand for, what we expect the country to be. But for this individual, he’s in a game show. And everything that happens begins and ends with him, not our people or our country. Every time he talks about those things it’s just a ruse. That’s just disingenuous cynical and fake.

Frankly I don’t have any desire to dispute much of Popovich’s depiction of Trump as it mirrors many of the same character flaws I (and many other conservatives) noted during the election cycle. But by injecting such scathing personal assaults into a basketball pregame press conference, the truth is that Gregg Popovich becomes guilty of participating in and encouraging the very shroud of national gloom he claims to object to and oppose.

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Peter Heck

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