“A smart man is running the N.F.L. and he didn’t understand the difference between the flag and what makes the country great — all the people who fought to allow Kaepernick to have the right to kneel for justice,” he says. “The flag is irrelevant. It’s just a symbol that people glom onto for political reasons, just like Cheney back in the Iraq war.”
He continues about Goodell: “He got intimidated when Trump jumped on the kneeling” and “he folded.” Popovich says it is analogous to Republican lawmakers who support Trump out of fear “that they’ll get tweeted out of their office and not get elected the next go-round.” Don’t Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham have people at home they are embarrassed to look in the eye, he ponders.
What does he think about the fact that seven N.F.L. owners, including Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft, each gave a million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee?
“It’s just hypocritical,” he replies. “It’s incongruent. It doesn’t make sense. People aren’t blind. Do you go to your staff and your players and talk about injustices and democracy and how to protest? I don’t get it. I think they put themselves in a position that’s untenable.”
When he trashed Trump soon after the election, the suits at the Spurs told him people were turning in their season tickets.
“I just said: ‘I don’t care. If they don’t come, I don’t care. That’s the way it is,’” he recalls. “From ownership, not one phone call, not one look, about dialing it back.”
Is he worried about starting to play again on July 30 at Disney World, with that other plague still on the loose?
He passes the ball to Adam Silver, the smooth N.B.A. commish.
“Ah, the Covid,” the coach murmurs. “I’m just counting on Adam to make sure we’re all safe.”
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