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George Floyd: Donald Trump criticised by Gregg Popovich over US protests

Sunday 7 June 2020 16:57, UK

Gregg Popovich
Image: San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has launched a scathing criticism of US president Donald Trump

Enraged San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has sharply criticised the lack of leadership shown by President Donald Trump and called him a "coward" in the wake of week-long protests surrounding the death of George Floyd.

Popovich criticised Trump for being unable to say "black lives matter" at a time when the nation desperately needs to hear those words from the leader of the country.

"It's unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 per cent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people," Popovich told The Nation. "But he doesn't care about bringing people together. Even now.

"It's all about him. It's all about what benefits him personally. It's never about the greater good."

US President Donald Trump speaks as he departs the White House, on May 5, 2020, in Washington, DC en route to Arizona, where he will tour a mask factory and hold a roundtable on Native American issues.
Image: Popovich says Trump is a 'coward'

Nationwide protests and demonstrations have erupted since Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 while white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

Popovich, a staunch critic of Trump, views the president as a detriment to the country.

"He's not just divisive. He's a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die," Popovich said.

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"He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I'm appalled that we have a leader who can't say 'black lives matter.' That's why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward.

"He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler. Actually, I think it's best to ignore him."

Popovich, who has won five NBA titles with the Spurs and ranks third all-time with 1,272 regular-season victories, said Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are failing at leadership.

Coaches Alvin Gentry and Gregg Popovich exchange words
Image: Popovich says 'change' is required and that he is 'willing to his part'

"It's so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that 'black lives matter,'" Popovich said. "Just say those three words.

"But he won't and he can't. But it's more than just Trump. The system has to change. I'll do whatever I can do to help, because that's what leaders do. But he can't do anything to put us on a positive path, because he's not a leader."

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As for the protests surrounding Floyd's death, Popovich said those are needed but he would like to see better organisation.

"It's frustrating. When Dr. (Martin Luther) King did a protest, you knew when to show, when to come back the next day. But if you're just organising protests and everyone is coming and going in every direction, it doesn't work that way. If it was nonviolent, they knew to be nonviolent, but this is muddled.

"More leadership would be very welcome so these incredible mass demonstrations can't be used by people for other means. We can limit the bad, but only if things are organised better.

"We need change. The system has to change. I'm willing to do my part."

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