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NBA’s Popovich: ‘The Flag Is Irrelevant. It’s Just A Symbol That People Glom Onto For Political Reasons.’
Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs calls a play during the first half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 20, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Speaking to Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, Gregg Popovich, the coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, an outspoken opponent of President Trump, stated of the American flag, “The flag is irrelevant. It’s just a symbol that people glom onto for political reasons.”

The Times’ headline for Dowd’s piece sets the strident tone for the article as it not only refers to Popovich as “America’s Coach” but also named Trump “America’s Cretin,” reading: “An Anti-Trump Slam Dunk: On the issue of race, America’s Coach boxes out America’s Cretin.”

Dowd calls Popovich, whose Spurs have won the NBA title five times, “an NBA legend,” opining that he is “open-minded, principled and curious as Trump is narrow-minded, unprincipled and incurious” before she segues to asking him questions such as whether “the law-and-order militaristic approach can work for Cadet Bone Spurs in the campaign.”

Popovich answers, “I honestly do. I feel badly for the military around Trump because they’re dealing with the guy who is the poster boy for the aggrieved wannabe. And he’s taking it out on the world and it’s ruining our country.”

Popovich’s flag comments come in response to Dowd asking about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s “mea culpa that the N.F.L. was wrong for not listening sooner to players who wanted to speak out and protest.”

Popovich replies, “A smart man is running the NFL, and he didn’t understand the difference between the flag and what makes the country great — all the people who fought to allow Kaepernick to have the right to kneel for justice. The flag is irrelevant. It’s just a symbol that people glom onto for political reasons, just like Cheney back in the Iraq war. . . . [Goodell] got intimidated when Trump jumped on the kneeling [and] he folded.”

Dowd continues, “Popovich says it is analogous to Republican lawmakers who support Trump out of fear ‘that they’ll get tweeted out of their office and not get elected the next go-round.’ Don’t Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham have people at home they are embarrassed to look in the eye, he ponders.”

In May 2017, Popovich said of Trump, “But to this day I feel like there’s a dark cloud, a pall over the whole country. It’s got nothing to do with the Democrats losing the election. It’s got to do with the way one individual conducts himself. And that’s embarrassing. It’s dangerous to our institutions, and what we all stand for and what we expect the country to be. But for this individual, he’s in a game show. And everything that happens begins and ends with him. Not our people or our country; every time he talks about those things, it’s just a ruse. That’s just disingenuous, cynical and fake.”

In September 2017, after some NFL players protested during the national anthem, Popovich expostulated,“Our country is an embarrassment to the world.”

On Sunday. NASA legend Buzz Aldrin had a different take on the flag:

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