The most influential coach in the NBA has the fiercest defense of national anthem protesters yet

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Monday was media day for the San Antonio Spurs, and as it has become standard, reporters got to asking head coach Gregg Popovich about his take on Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest, and all of its ripples.


The first question (a truly awful question) was, "What are your thoughts on what's going on in the country?" Popovich lamented the expectation to answer broad questions in 30 seconds, and pressed reporters to come at him with specifics.

A reporter then asked if he supported those protesting the anthem. From the San Antonio Express-News:

It's easier for white people because we haven't lived that experience. It's difficult for many white people to understand the day-to-day feeling that many black people have to deal with. It's not just a rogue policeman, or a policeman exerting too much force or power, when we know that most of the police are just trying to do their job, which is very difficult. I'd be scared to death if I was a policeman and I stopped a car. You just don't know what's going to happen. And part of that in our country is exacerbated by the preponderance of guns that other countries don't have to deal with. It gets very complicated.


Popovich went on at length, and you can read the full transcript here, but this passage is his key point. This type of basic empathy—acknowledging that white people couldn't possibly understand the entirety of people of color's perspective—is somehow missing from this entire conversation.

We're just about a month away from the NBA season, which means we're probably just about a month away from some sanity finally being injected to this whole Colin Kaepernick story. The NFL might just be too inflexible to actually have a nuanced conversation about the actual content of Kaepernick's protest. Popovich's comments—and Steve Kerr's comments, and Draymond Green's comments, and Jabari Parker's comments —may be a sign that the NBA is willing to take its place.

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.

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