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Gregg Popovich on Trump: ‘You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth’

The Spurs coach voices his criticism of the president-elect again the ’80s

Roughly one hundred.

That was the number of e-mails San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told The Undefeated that he has received since verbalizing his disdain for Donald Trump winning the recent U.S. presidential election and those who voted for him. Popovich said he read each e-mail sent to his unpublished e-mail account and the majority were positive. Some, however, strongly took exception to Popovich’s rant in which he said Trump “is in charge of our country, that’s disgusting,” compared his intimidating talk to a “seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully” and so much more.

“They were almost all positive, but every now and then there was one saying they will never spend another dollar at the Spurs arena or a Spurs game, something like that,” Popovich told The Undefeated on Wednesday. “But mostly positive. People understood. Most of the comments were that the words were things they wanted to say, but didn’t have a platform to say. I’m glad I did.

“I’m not trying to run for office or do anything great. I’m just trying to be honest with what I felt and what I think people are feeling.”

Popovich was asked about Trump again before the Spurs’ game against the host Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. The son of immigrant parents who grew up in diverse East Chicago, Indiana, wasn’t shy about giving his view on Trump on this night, either.

Do you feel good about speaking up?

Somebody asked me, and I told the truth of what I felt, and I still feel the same way. It’s still a disorienting situation, when you thought you lived in a certain kind of country with certain values that were held in esteem and find out those values aren’t very important to half the country.

I thought that with all the divisiveness in the election and all the groups President-elect Trump disparaged, the best way to start out would not be to worry about Obamacare or to talk about Wall Street or Medicare or anything or make appointments, but to maybe say some things to assuage the feelings of all those groups he disparaged. But that didn’t happen.

That was my hope. I thought that would be a great way to start if he was really interested in unifying and bringing everybody into the tent, so to speak. But that just got totally blown away, and everything he said there is no responsibility or accountability for it. So that still bothers me very much.

Were you shocked at the way the election went?

Sure. I think most people were. I think he was shocked. I think he was preparing to lose. You could tell because he doesn’t seem to be really that interested in policy, or anything like that. I haven’t seen or heard from him any core values or principles. He’s got one big motivation, and that’s to win at whatever he does. But that’s not a core value, that’s not a principle, that’s not a vision.

I think it was pretty apparent that, at some point, when he thought he was going to lose, that’s when the system was rigged, just like in the primary. The reporter, the moderator asked more questions than him. ‘The media this and that, I’m getting a raw deal.’ But when he was winning, everything was fine. The same thing with the election. Now it’s not rigged, of course.

What do you think of Steve Bannon being one of Trump’s top advisers?

Well, I think that’s very troublesome to many of us. As I said, it would be great if he made some statements to all of the groups he disparaged, to bring us all together, and to allay fears, because there are a lot of fearful people, and for good reason. But rather than doing that, he inflamed it even more with that [Bannon] appointment.

It’s kind of ironic. I wonder sometimes if he made all those statements, he certainly whipped up the fearmongering and emotion in that base, but it’s going to be ironic because now a lot of the things he told them he’s going to do he’s already started to walk back a little bit. It’s sort of like, did he use them all to get elected, and thus winning again? He’s pretty good at that. You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. It changes day to day, depending on the situation and what he needs at the moment.

Would you potentially skip a future White House visit because he’s there (if the Spurs won an NBA title)?

I’m not going to speculate on the future. I’m just talking about how I feel at the moment, and mostly for all of those groups that we all know.

The Holt family (which owns the Spurs) contributed a good chunk of money to Trump. They’ve obviously given you the green light to speak your mind.

No, they haven’t given me that freedom. I live in America. That’s what has given me that freedom. There are no individual people that give me that freedom.

There are people who say to “stick to sports.” Why is it important for you to speak out?

I think everybody’s views are important. I think anybody who says that, it’s an easy argument. What we say might make them feel uncomfortable, so they have to come back with something. It’s basically sort of Trump-like.

Do we want to go back to eighth grade, and do the cut down artist thing, and go back and forth with someone if they disagree with me? But everybody can have an opinion. You can be the doctor, the plumber, the lawyer, the car mechanic, the gardener or a lowly basketball coach. You can have an opinion.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.