The Spurs head coach speaks his mind on the state of America …and it is the most rare, most precious and most beautiful thing in professional sport today.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Gregg Popovich is a revelation to his sport, to all professional sport really.

Without making matters overly complicated, sport is the nation’s biggest distractor deployed by the corporate state to stifle and silence regular people. It plays the same role in modern society that religion did to empower feudal empires and suppress peasants in medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries.

The updated formula is as such: Put a bunch of over-the-top talented, genetic freaks on a court, field or pitch, let them treat us to the miracle of live spectacle and sprinkle the fairy dust of advertising for soda, giant brewery conglomerates, car companies, gas companies and insurance on top of that — and bam, a cure-all for all that ails modern society.

We reach for the bright light and ignore all the problems in the shadows around it. We literally will step over the homeless en route to our stadium seats without even looking in their direction or pondering how they got there…or whether we’re next.

This very site is guilty of pandering to the distraction, often. Even as we decry the oligarchs, the steaming/seething/red-faced billionaire slave owners gazing down from their sky boxes at their plantation crews, we fully also support its tributes, sport as the great equalizer, the great race and socioeconomic barrier breaker, the great escape.

What is it we’re escaping? Legal bribery, insane corporatism that has conspired to overthrow (and is winning) democracy, targeted arrests, mass incarcerations and assassinations of folks in this country, especially women and minorities.

We are actively turning our backs on the snuffing out of voices of those who dissent. We are supporting the promulgation of a corporate media state that foment acts of treason and turns them into spectacle. We are agreeing to and complicit with a deeply militarized surveillance state. Both political parties and their elected surrogates, to a person, are busy being leveraged by the same media entities, team owners and corporate sponsors — all have been elected or self-appointed specifically turn their backs on the populate they pretend to represent.

Are you not entertained?

Enter Popovich. Widely considered one of the greatest coaches of all time, he is the owner of five NBA titles and a record 20 consecutive winning seasons. Popovich is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a man who served five years active duty in the United States Air Force who happens to be the current coach of the US National team.

To say Popovich is preoccupied by the current administration’s lies, misdeeds, self-dealing, more lies, back-turning to the American people and its allies and treasonous alliances with foreign adversary — out of naivete or for profit — during his team’s most recent playoff run …is an understatement.

In the wake of a heartbreaking game 1 Western Conference Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors Sunday — a game that was well in hand until his team lost its superstar and this year’s presumptive league MVP Kawhi Leonard in the third quarter with a badly sprained left ankle — Popovich focused not on the struggles of his team but on the struggles of a nation:

“Usually things happen in the world and you go to work and you have your family and your friends and you do what you do,” he said. “To this day, I feel like there’s a cloud, a pall over the whole country in a paranoid, surreal sort of way. It’s got nothing to do with the Democrats losing the election, it has 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. For this individual, he’s in a game show. Everything that happens begins and ends with him, not our people or our country. Every time he talks about those things, it’s a ruse. Disingenuous, cynical.”

Popovich has spoken in defiance when it comes to Trump at least a half-dozen times in the six months since the president was installed by a vast minority, including this six-minute “We are Rome” soliloquy immediately following the election:

For the last four decades, athletes have assumed a secondary role as spokespersons and agents for change and progress. They are puppets, slaves to their corporate overlords and cliche-spitting, party line-towing mouthpieces. The locker room waltz in the rise of a media juggernaut like ESPN has reduced the effort to report on matters off the court from an obligatory nod or sidebar to something that is non-existent.

To the extent that we all live in a world where tragedies happen and our nation is pushed to the brink of oblivion, now with a daily frequency, it is necessary a principled man — one who seemingly is above the forced tone of the league and its mouthpieces — could really give a shit whether he loses his job tomorrow for speaking like an actual person.

In other words, like so many teams he’s coached through the decades, Popovich is stepping up at the right time.

It is good to have at least one of him. Too bad there aren’t 29 more.

Andrew J. Pridgen helps run sister site Goner Party and is the author of the novella “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.

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