Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke out Monday night in the wake of the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota.
Popovich, who is perhaps the most outspoken coach in the league, was as outraged as he has ever been in recent memory.
“It just makes you sick to your stomach,” Popovich said, via KSAT’s RJ Marquez. “How many times does it have to happen? As sick to our stomachs as we might feel, that individual is dead! He’s dead! And his family is grieving, and his friends are grieving. And we just keep moving on as if nothing is happening.”
Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation Sunday afternoon in a suburb just north of Minneapolis, and police tried to detain him after discovering he had an arrest warrant, according to The New York Times. Wright then stepped back into his car, and an officer shot him. He drove off and crashed several blocks away, where he died at the scene.
He was 20.
Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon said Monday that the officer who shot Wright did so accidentally, as she was instead trying to use her taser.
The shooting comes amid a tense time in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, as former police officer Derek Chauvin is currently on trial facing murder charges for the death of George Floyd last summer.
Wright’s death prompted the Minnesota Twins, Timberwolves and Wild to all postpone their respective games in the Twin Cities on Monday.
Athletes and other figures across the sports world took to social media to voice their anger over his death.
"We mourn the death of Daunte Wright and pray for his family and loved ones during this extremely difficult time," the NBPA said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the entire Minneapolis community as they struggle to process this latest tragedy together with the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin."
Popovich slams Donald Trump, Republicans for inaction
Popovich got very emotional speaking about the shooting, which he said is the latest frustrating issue related to policing and gun control, issues he has been vocal about for years.
Though there is outrage in the immediate aftermath of incidents like this, he said, people in power are constantly pushing to “maintain the status quo.” He also called out Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
“I mentioned our governor in Texas, Governor Abbott,” Popovich said, via KSAT’s RJ Marquez. “It’s deplorable and it’s almost impossible to listen to this man speak. The other day when guns came up, he actually made the statement again, an old trite myth argument that, ‘They’re coming for your guns. That’s going to be the next step. They’re going to take away your guns.’
“Nobody is taking away anybody’s guns and he knows it. So he’s a liar. But he wants to keep his seat. He wants to continue to stay in power, and he’ll say whatever he has to do to follow the lead of Donald Trump and the rest of the Republicans.”
Popovich continued railing against the Republican Party and former President Donald Trump for their role in pushing the “big lie” about nonexistent fraud in the presidential elections, the violent and deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol in January and for calling the COVID-19 pandemic a “hoax.”
“It’s childish. It’s sickening. It’s dangerous. And do these people want a country or not?” Popovich told KSAT. “Do these people have grandchildren? Do they want their grandchildren to go to work and go to school and go through these [mass shooter] drills and worry about being murdered? What does it take?
“They care more about them than your freaking power and your position and your donors. And with policing, it’s the same damn way. How many young Black kids have to be killed for no freaking reason?”
Popovich finished by calling for action within the NBA. He wants to know where the money comes from.
“We need to find out who funds these people,” he said. “I want to know what owners in the NBA fund these people who perpetrate these lies. Maybe that’s a good place to start so it’s all transparent.”
Rivers: ‘Improving our culture as a society is really important.’
Rivers made similar comments before their game Monday night.
The anger that he and others in the Black community are feeling in the wake of Wright's death, he said, needs to reach much, much further.
“[It’s] frustrating, as it should be for… I think we got to stop saying it’s frustrating for all Black Americans,” Rivers said, via Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice. “I think we should be frustrated by all Americans. I don’t know if it was a mistake or not, I saw the body cam video like everyone else, but I just know the frustration is a real thing for everybody and for us.”
Rivers then addressed "cancel culture," something he says completely misses the point and brought up how Germany moved on and rebuilt after World War II.
“You keep hearing this cancel culture stuff, but we’re canceling Black lives. To me, that’s a little more important, in my opinion, and it just keeps happening,” Rivers said, via Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice. “We keep making mistakes on killing Black people … To me, improving our culture as a society is really important. Not canceling it, but improving it.
“Other countries have done a terrific job. I keep going back to Germany, I use Germany as a great example. You don’t see swastikas, you don’t see statues of Nazi soldiers all around, and they don’t say that’s cancel culture. They say that’s improving their culture. I think we need to think more on those terms.”
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