The NBA has been very outspoken about social injustice topics, and now two of its prominent figures are speaking in the wake of yet another shooting and killing of a Black man by a white police officer.
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke out Monday, April 12, following the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. Before the Spurs’ game against the Orlando Magic Monday night, a visibly angry Popovich addressed the incident, stating, “It just makes you sick to your stomach.” He continued, “As sick to our stomachs that we might feel, that individual is dead. He’s dead. And his family is grieving. And his friends are grieving. And we just keep moving on as if nothing is happening.”
On the afternoon of Sunday, April 12, Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation in a suburb north of Minneapolis. Authorities tried to arrest the 20-year-old after discovering he had a misdemeanor arrest warrant. Wright then stepped back in his car, and that’s when a police officer who was later identified as Kim Potter shot him. Wounded, Wright drove off and crashed several blocks away, where he died at the scene.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon revealed on Monday that Potter shot Wright by accident after mistaking her gun for her taser. By Tuesday, April 13, both Potter and Gannon had resigned.
Popovich later went to detail the systematic racism in America, calling out Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, saying, “We see what’s happening with policing and young black men, and some other people of color and with the massacres of our children, it’s the same thing. It goes on and on, and everybody says, ‘Well, when is it going to be enough?’ Of course, I don’t have those answers, but the people who continually fight to maintain that status quo are not good people.”
“The other day when guns came up, (Abbott) actually made the statement, ‘They’re coming for your guns. That’s going to be the next step. They’re going to take away your guns,'” Popovich continued. “Nobody is taking away anybody’s guns, and he knows it, so he’s a liar who wants to keep his seat. He wants to continue to be in power, and he’ll say whatever he has to do to follow the lead of Donald Trump and the rest of the Republicans.”
The 72-year-old concluded his powerful statement by continuing to call out the Republican party and Trump for their role in pushing the “big lie” about nonexistent fraud in the 2020 presidential election, among other issues. He even called out NBA owners who may potentially have right-wing ties.
Elsewhere, Black head coach Rivers delivered a similar statement before Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, saying, “We keep hearing this cancel culture stuff, but we’re canceling Black lives. To me, that’s more important in my opinion.” He continued, “It just keeps happening. We keep making mistakes and killing Black people. I don’t want to get into race, but it’s there. I think we all have weaknesses. But I think we need to confront them and find out how we can make this place a better world and a better country. To me, improving our culture as a society is really important. Not canceling it, but improving it. Other countries have done a terrific job.”
He later highlighted how Germany reformed following World War II. “Other countries have done a terrific job. I keep going back to Germany. I use Germany as a great example. You don’t see swastikas, you don’t see statues of Nazi soldiers all around, and they don’t say that’s cancel culture. They say that’s improving their culture. I think we need to think more on those terms.“
Check the clip from Gregg Popovich’s speech down below.