The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘He brings out the dark side of human beings’: Gregg Popovich calls out President Trump

Gregg Popovich offered more criticism of the president on Tuesday. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

A visit to the White House wasn’t really an option, what with Gregg Popovich’s views on President Trump and the requirement that a team recently have won a championship, so the San Antonio Spurs went elsewhere for a little sightseeing during their off-day Monday in the nation’s capital: the Supreme Court.

“We try to do things outside of basketball and just expose players to real life because this is just entertainment,” Popovich said, in explaining the visit. “I think it’s important for them to be exposed to what’s going on in a variety of different ways, that’s why we take trips like that or have people come in and speak to us. Stuff like that.”

Before facing the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night, Popovich, who has shared sharp criticism of Trump, was asked more questions about societal issues than basketball during his nearly 11-minute media availability. Popovich explained in detail why he continues to speak out.

“It becomes a priority of what’s more important. I think we have a situation where we’re going backwards, at least as far as race is concerned and it has to be pointed out,” Popovich said. “Our current president hopes to bore us to death with all these new issues day after day after day that keep him in the news. You can talk about one comment or scandal after another and it becomes commonplace, forgotten about and we don’t even know what’s going on behind the scenes, like what’s happening to our environment and health and all this sort of thing. All the laws that are kind of sliding and all the people who are being removed and being replaced. Like scientists being replaced by politicians.

“We take our eye off the ball, and he’s great at it,” Popovich continued. “He brings out the dark side of human beings for his own purpose, which is himself. And if it’s not pointed out and people don’t stand up and point it out, it will become commonplace, and it’s not the world that I want to live in.”

Also, Popovich said the youth who participated in the “March for Our Lives” rally on last Saturday was encouraging: “They give me hope that I’m actually living in the country I thought I was living in.”

As for the team’s Supreme Court visit, players and coaches met Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Justice Sonia Sotomayor, according to guard Brandon Paul.

For Paul, a fan of legal shows like “Law and Order,” “Suits” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” the visit may encourage his mother to push on him another career path once again.

“I thought it was dope,” Paul said. “My mom, she jokes with me — because I liked to argue when I was younger and make sure there’s justice — that I should try to go to law school.”

The very tall sightseers, naturally, stood out during their visit. With D.C. tourism flourishing during the confluence of spring break and the blooming of cherry blossoms, the Spurs surprised a group of Illinois high school kids, among others.

“Someone said, ‘Hey, that’s the San Antonio Spurs. The kids should try and get their picture with them,’ ” Julie Hamilton, a Seneca High School teacher who organized the trip, told the LaSalle News Tribune.

The Spurs drew a crowd, which means that there was video of the Seneca kids photobombing the NBAers. And the video was viral because it was posted by a gossipy sports website, giving the kiddos a chance to call home and say the words that terrify parents, “Hey, check me out on TMZ!”

Admittedly, “When we saw the video, it was a shock,” Hamilton said. “Everyone was in awe, and they were going crazy on the bus.”

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