San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says the USA is “in trouble” and admits he is “embarrassed as a white person” by the manner in which George Floyd was killed on May 25.
Speaking in a video released by the Spurs on social media, an emotional Popovich took issue with the actions of former police officer Derek Chauvin that led to the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.
“In a strange, counterintuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this recent tragedy, I think, was the look on the officer’s face,” Popovich said.
“For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, just how everyday-going-about-his job, so much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson – and that it was his right and his duty to do it, in his mind.
“I don’t know. I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen. To actually watch a lynching. We’ve all seen books, and you look in the books and you see black people hanging off of trees. And you are amazed. But we just saw it again. I never thought I’d see that, with my own eyes, in real time.”
Popovich’s comments came amid worldwide protests in response to the death of Floyd.
Chauvin, who is white, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after pressing his knee on the neck of Floyd, who is African American, for more than eight minutes.
On Wednesday, the murder charge against Chauvin was elevated to second-degree.
The other three officers in attendance were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
“It’s like the neighbourhood where you know there’s a dangerous corner, and you know that something’s going to happen someday, and nobody does anything,” Popovich said.
“And then a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up. Well, without getting too political, we’ve got a lot of stop signs that need to go up – quickly – because our country is in trouble. And the basic reason is race.”
Popovich, 71, has won five NBA titles with the Spurs and ranks third all-time with 1,272 regular-season victories.