By Stefan Djordjevic/ email@example.com
San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich and his assistant Becky Hammon decided to stand during the national anthem before their first official game vs. the Sacramento Kings in the Orlando return, while the rest of the Spurs plus the Kings knelt.
“I prefer to keep that to myself,” Popovich politely said, per ESPN. “Everybody has to make a personal decision. The league has been great about that. Everybody has the freedom to react any way that they want. For whatever reasons that I have, I reacted the way I wanted to.” Both Popovich and Hammon were wearing shirts with the “Black Lives Matter” slogan.
Popovich, who is also the head coach of the USA men’s basketball team, graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1970 with a degree in Soviet studies. He played at Air Force and served his five-year military commitment upon graduation.
The 71-year-old coach has been very active and consistent on voicing his opinions regarding politics, racial (in)justice or anything he believes needs to be said. He did so in Orlando, prior to the game, as well.
“Considering what’s going on in our country with race, it’s always been our national sin and it’s always been something that has never been faced as well as it should have been. And with the events that we’ve all witnessed in this last year, it’s just logical and wise to keep that momentum going … because it is a national embarrassment. It keeps us from being the country that we should be or the country that was promised to everyone.”
The Spurs star player in Demar DeRozan stood in defense of his coaches’ decisions and noted that nobody should ‘vilify’ them for standing during the anthem.
“With Pop and Becky standing, I have no doubts that it’s all out of genuine, out of a positive side of their heart. The same way we kneel. Don’t take away anything from those guys. You know Pop speaks out. When it comes to Becky, she’s been on the front line, fighting for equality since I’ve been a fan of hers playing in the WNBA. So everybody has their own right of making a statement and you can’t vilify anybody for not doing what the other group is doing. I’m all for it” DeRozan explained.