NBA's Coach Popovich not afraid to call out Trump
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Those Americans who desperately want President Trump to leave office before his term ends really don't believe it can happen.

They know all too well that Trump made a statement during the campaign which seems to be unassailable and unfortunately totally true and — most worrisome — prophetic.

He famously said, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

All you have to do is ask the thousands who waited for hours in the Florida sun for his rally this past weekend. Looking at their face, there seems to be not a bit of diminution in their support for him. They are still enthralled. Nothing Trump has done since Jan. 20 bothers or disappoints them.

The administration's disarray; unqualified Cabinet appointments; the many tweets; the lack of knowledge of foreign affairs? No, none of this cracks their fascination and ardor for Trump.

But there is one individual whose remarks about Trump should be known and widely disseminated.

Maybe he'll even change some minds, since he is in no way part of the "coastal elite."


He grew up in East Chicago, Indiana and attended high school in nearby Merrillville. I know something about East Chicago. It's a tough town, a town of factories and basketball. Growing up in Chicago in the '60s, we all knew of the legendary basketball coach at East Chicago's Washington High, Johnnie Baratto.

East Chicago was a place where steelworkers lived, where people made their living by hard manual labor. A college degree was not necessary for respect or admiration; an Ivy League pedigree didn't matter.

No, what was important was a code of conduct and way of behaving. These solid citizens, proudly patriotic, had a worldview and certain role models whom they looked up to and followed.

They, like everyone else, wanted and worked to be successful, hoping to reach the middle class and stay there. But success was not only measured by how much money you made every year or had in your bank account.

East Chicago's Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is an American success story. Remarkably, he is the longest-tenured head coach in U.S. professional sports, having been with the Spurs for 21 years. Under Popovich, the Spurs are renowned for their consistent performance.

But Popovich is not just about basketball. A true East Chicagoan, he talks tough like the city he's from.

The coach is appalled and outraged by who is now the president of the United States. Yes, Popovich makes $11 million a year, but that does not mean he's happy to recede into the background. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, "Pop" does not hold back.

In last weekend's Washington Post, Kent Babb highlighted some of Popovich's recent political quotes. What I most like about Popovich's words is how they are conversational, but also strong and unyielding.

He said Trump's victory made him feel "sick to my stomach."

The day after Trump's inauguration, Popovich remarked that he'd "feel better if someone was in that position that showed the maturity and psychological and emotional level of somebody that was his age. It's dangerous and it doesn't do us any good."

And: "I hope he does a great job. But there's a difference between respecting the office and the person who occupies it. That respect is to be earned. It's hard to be respectful when we all have kids and we're watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist."

Of Trump's mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski early in his campaign, what Popovich called "the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him"? According to the coach, "That's what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does."

Are there enough Trump people who will eventually change and become disgusted? Will the Republican leadership ever grow a backbone and prize country over party loyalty?

Regardless, I sure hope Gregg Popovich continues to speak his mind. The country needs this kind of coach.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. Previously, he was the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington's NPR affiliate, where he co-hosted the "D.C. Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He later became the political analyst for WTOP-FM, Washington's all-news radio station, where he hosted "The Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.