CLEVELAND — Gregg Popovich would bench President Donald Trump.
San Antonio’s longtime coach, who has been highly critical of Trump in the past, went on a lengthy rant about the new president on Saturday night, calling him a bully and saying he hopes he can change while in office.
While meeting with reporters before the Spurs played the NBA champion Cavaliers, Popovich didn’t hold back in offering his disdain for Trump and members of his administration.
Popovich initially was asked about his views on the women’s marches in Washington and around the world before he unloaded on Trump.
“Their message is obvious,” the five-time champion coach said of the protesters. “Our president comes in with the lowest (approval) rating of anybody whoever came into the office. And there’s a majority of people out there, since Hillary (Clinton) won the popular vote, that don’t buy his act. And I just wish that he was more — had the ability to be more — mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying, ‘I’m going to include everybody.’
“He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it. But so far, we’ve got (to) a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. You really can’t.”
As he said following Trump’s election in November, Popovich wants Trump to succeed but believes he will do so only if he changes.
Popovich pointed out that Trump visited CIA headquarters on his first official day in office, but used the occasion to talk about himself.
“Instead of honouring the 117 people behind him where he was speaking, he talked about the size of the crowd,” Popovich said. “That’s worrisome. I’d just feel better if somebody 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. I hope he does a great job, but there’s a difference between respecting the office of the presidency and who occupies it.
“And that respect has to be earned.”
Popovich was also critical of those who don’t hold Trump accountable for his words.
“It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist and make fun of handicapped people. And what really bothers me are the people around him: the Sean Spicers, the Kellyanne Conways, the Reince Priebuses that know who he is and actually have the cynical approach and disingenuous attitude to really defend him and try to make it look like he didn’t say what he said.
“And so when he’s mad at the media for them reporting what he said, that just boggles my mind.”
Popovich said others would have been punished for some of the things Trump has said in the past, including when he mocked a reporter with a disability.
“If our children would’ve said it, we would have grounded him for six months,” he said. “Without a doubt. But we ignore all that because, because why? That says something about all of us and that’s what’s dangerous, or that’s what scares the hell out of me to this day. It makes me uneasy.”
Popovich concluded his rant about Trump by decrying his inability to handle media criticism.
“It does boggle the mind how somebody can be so thin skinned,” he said. “It’s all obvious, it’s about him. If anything affects him, if it’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ or ‘Hamilton,’ or she got 3 more million votes than you. ‘They’re illegal.’ It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s a pattern there. And that’s dangerous. I’d like to have someone with gravitas, but he got there through the electoral college, which is part of our system, and I hope he does some good things.
“There was a young lady on today who said, ‘I just wished he had gone up there and said something like, and I know I said certain things, or you know I would really like to bring the people who don’t feel, or I know some of you are scared.’ But he can’t do that because bullies don’t do that. That’s why.”