Spurs coach Gregg Popovich refused to back down Wednesday when asked about members of the franchise’s ownership group who have made financial contributions to Donald Trump and other Republican politicians who support Trump’s false claims about election fraud in 2020 and legislation critics say would suppress voter turnout among Democrats.
Responding to a question about the police shooting of 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb, Popovich on Monday said he wanted to know “what owners in the NBA fund these people who perpetrate these lies.”
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One prominent member of the Spurs ownership group who has made donations to Trump and Republican politicians who support him, including Georgia U.S. Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, is former Spurs chairwoman Julianna Hawn Holt, according to an online database maintained by the nonprofit, nonpartisian Center for Responsive Politics.
“I don’t think you need to single out anybody,” Popovich said Wednesday. “In general, one has to question why one would give money to people who participated in that sort of lie, whether it’s people in Texas or any other place. How did they enjoy Jan. 6? How do we enjoy the rise of the extremism we are seeing? And to have politicians who divert attention or out and out lie about it seems to me to be unbelievably dangerous. We are talking about our country, our democracy.”
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Listen to sports columnist Mike Finger talk about the Spurs coach’s latest comments slamming owners.
In about 60 lawsuits Trump’s legal team and his Republican allies filed since the election, only one resulted in a small victory — in Pennsylvania. None of those cases proved the presence of fraud in the 2020 election, the Associated Press reported.
“What purpose does that do to keep people in office that are willing to out and out lie about things they know are untrue and dangerous for our society?” Popovich said. “It just boggles my mind.”
Despite angering fans and sponsors in a state Trump carried in 2016 and 2020 to the point where they cut ties with the team, Popovich said he has never been asked by any of the shareholders to tone down his public comments about politics.
The team did not respond to a recent request for an interview with current Spurs chairman Peter J. Holt.
“The Holt family and our ownership group has been absolutely 100 percent perfect in not putting on any pressure or doing anything that would keep any of us from expressing our ideas,” Popovich said. “They have been absolutely magnificent in that regard.”
Along those lines, Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV took to social media Wednesday to point out the difference between the way police have reacted to protesters this week in Minneapolis and how law enforcement handled the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building in January.
“Where was this energy when (people) was going into the (U.S. Capitol building)?” Walker wrote in a tweet that accompanied a 16-second video apparently posted by a Minneapolis photojournalist that appeared to show police firing flashbangs and gas grenades at protesters.
Police in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center declared the protests to be an unlawful assembly Tuesday during the third consecutive night of unrest following Wright’s death.
Three days after she allegedly shot and killed Wright during a traffic stop, Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter faced a charge of second-degree manslaughter, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said Wednesday.
Police and hundreds of demonstrators squared off Tuesday night at Brooklyn Center’s police headquarters. The building was protected by concrete barriers, a tall metal fence, police in riot gear and National Guard soldiers, the Associated Press reported.
About 90 minutes before a 10 p.m. curfew, state police announced over a loudspeaker the gathering had been declared unlawful and ordered demonstrators to disperse, the AP reported. State police said the order to disperse came prior to the curfew because protesters attempted to remove fencing and were throwing rocks at police, according to reports.
Protesters responded by launching fireworks at the station and throwing objects at officers, who fired flash-bangs and gas grenades before marching toward the crowd.
In sharp contrast, U.S. Capitol Police forces protecting the Capitol building on Jan. 6 were quickly overwhelmed and showed relative restraint while confronted with rioters supporting Trump’s false claim that he won the 2020 election.
DeMar DeRozan and then-Spur LaMarcus Aldridge were among the players who questioned why more force wasn’t used against the mainly white protesters who attacked the Capitol building.
“If yesterday wasn’t evidence of what we have been going through for years and years, I don’t know how else to put it,” DeRozan said in January. “It’s a perfect description of what it’s like to be Black or brown in this country.”
A woman was shot by Capitol Police on Jan. 6 after she breached the building and attempting to enter the House chamber.
“If that was a group of Black people going into that building, there would have been more gun fire, probably more people dead,” Aldridge said.