San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he is 'embarrassed as a white person' to see George Floyd video and 'actually watch a lynching'
- Gregg Popovich, who has coached the San Antonio Spurs for more than two decades, said he felt 'embarrassed as a white person' after watching the video of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
- He called on white Americans to act against racism, saying that African Americans have been "shouldering this burden" for centuries.
- "It's gotta be us, in my opinion, that speaks truth to power — that call it out no matter what the consequences — we have to speak. We have to not let anything go," Popovich said.
San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said Saturday he was "embarrassed as a white person" to watch the video of the police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis and urged white Americans to work to combat issues of systemic racism.
Floyd died on May 25 after white police officer Derek Chauvin held him down using a controversial neck restraint tactic that can result in loss of consciousness. Chauvin held his knee to Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, even while he pleaded that he could not breathe and after he lost consciousness.
Chauvin and three other officers involved in his killing have been charged for their involvement with Floyd's death. His death has fueled the conversation about racism and police brutality in the US and resulted in nationwide protests and calls to action.
"The best teaching moment of this most recent tragedy was the look on the officer's face," Popovich said in a video posted to Twitter. "For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, how just every day going about his job — so much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket wiggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson."
Popovich has been the head coach of the Spurs since 1996 and also serves as the NBA team's general manager. Saturday was not the first time Popovich spoke up over Floyd's killing. On a podcast appearance earlier this week, Popovich said he was "dumbfounded" when he tried to explain Floyd's death to his 8-year-old granddaughter.
"I don't know," he said in the Saturday video, before taking a pause. "I think I'm just embarrassed as a white person to know that can happen — to actually watch a lynching."
He added: "We've all seen books, and when you look at the books, you see black people hanging off trees. You are amazed that we just saw it again. I never thought I'd see that with my own eyes in real-time."
Popovich called on white people to act against racism because "nothing's going to happen" otherwise, he said.
"Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years," he added. "The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence and patience and effort of black people. The history of our nation from the very getting in many ways was a lie."
"It's gotta be us, in my opinion, that speaks truth to power — that call it out no matter what the consequences — we have to speak. We have to not let anything go."
The longtime NBA coach compared the fight to combat racism to arguments related to gun control and school shootings, asking how many times Americans would watch another African American die at the hands of law enforcement before acting.
"What's it going to take? Two more black people with knees in their necks? I don't think so," he said. "It's easy for people to let things to because it doesn't involve them."
—San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) June 6, 2020
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