Many NBA coaches, players and commentators have shared their thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump this week. Gregg Popovich provided what I believe is the lengthiest response yet, prior to the Spurs game against the Pistons on Friday night.
The crazy thing is that it started with a reporter telling Popovich that many are wondering what his thoughts are on the election and Trump, and the Spurs coach replied, "I don't think my voice is that important."
As the reporter told him, no, his voice does matter, Popovich went on to explain what was going through his head - he went on for just under six minutes. Popovich talks about why the entire Trump campaign scares him, and why he's so disgusted that so many Americans voted for Trump.
"I'm a rich white guy, and I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it," he says.
Popovich closes with just three words: "We are Rome."
Here's the full audio of Popovich's rant, courtesy of the reporter who asked the questions to spark it, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News (a full transcription is below):
"I've spoken on this before and I probably will again. Right now I'm just trying to formulate thoughts. It's still early and I'm still sick to my stomach. Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and I live in that country where half the country ignored all that to elect someone. That's the scariest part of the whole thing to me.
"It's got nothing to do with the environment and Obamacare and all that other stuff. We live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They'd be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump. I look at the evangelicals and I wonder, 'Those values don't mean anything to them?'
"All those values to me are more important than anybody's skill in business or anything else because it tells who we are and how we want to live and what kind of people we are. That's why I have great respect for people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, John Kasich, who I disagree with on a lot of political things, but they had enough fiber and respect for humanity and tolerance for all groups to say what they said about the man.
"I get it, of course we want him to be successful. We're all gonna say that. Everybody wants him to be successful. It's our country. We don't want it to go down the drain. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion, but that does not take away the fact that he used that fear-mongering and all the comments from day one. The race baiting with trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I've been living and with whom I'm living.
"The fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team, and we're all gonna be Kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about about any of those things. Now we see that he's already backing off on immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake? Which makes you feel even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up to get elected.
"What gets lost in the process are African-Americans and hispanics and women and the gay population, not to mention the eighth grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That's what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does, and he was elected president of the United States. We would've scolded our kids, we would've have discussions and talked until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things, and he is in charge of our country. That's disgusting."
(Reporter tries to ask another question/add a comment.)
"I'm not done.
"One could go on and on. We didn't make this stuff up. He's angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted. It's ironic to me. It just makes no sense. So that's my real fear and that's what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that's necessary to understand other group situations.
"I'm a rich white guy, and I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can't imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a hispanic, a handicapped person, how disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it's just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all that.
"And so, my final conclusion is - my big fear is - we are Rome."
It should be noted that Popovich just recently talked about why he fears America could be like Rome. In early October, he told Esquire's Jack Holmes:
"I worry that maybe I'm being a little too pessimistic, but I'm beginning to have a harder time believing that we are not Rome. Rome didn't fall in 20 days or 30 years. It took a couple hundred years. The question is: Are we in that process and we don't even know it? I really am starting to think about that. It's not just the two candidates. It's the way the whole thing is being treated."
Back then, Popovich was unsure as to whether or not country was actually going down that path, but now it appears he's nearly absolutely certain.