Spurs’ Gregg Popovich on Standing During Anthem: ‘I Reacted the Way I Wanted To’

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to his players in a huddle in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Friday, July 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

Kim Klement/Associated Press

NBA players, coaches and referees have knelt during the national anthem in silent protest of systemic racism prior to regular-season games taking place during the league’s restart portion, although there have been a few exceptions.

One of them is San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who stood during the anthem prior to his team’s 129-120 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Popovich declined to reveal why he stood postgame, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.

“I prefer to keep that to myself. Everybody has to make a personal decision. The league has been great about that. Everybody has the freedom to react any way that they want. For whatever reasons that I have, I reacted the way I wanted to,” he said.

Popovich has routinely been one of the more vocal professional sports personalities in support of social justice even prior to the latest movement. Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated called Popovich the NBA’s “most woke coach” in a November 2016 piece, and he’s routinely been supportive of Black Lives Matter.

He also isn’t afraid to call out local or national politicians, with Popovich recently making remarks about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov Dan Patrick’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Tom Petrini @RealTomPetrini

“We’ve been all over the map in Texas, nobody knows what the hell is going on. We have a Lt. Gov. who decided he doesn’t want to listen to Fauci and those people anymore”

Gregg Popovich shared some thoughts about state and federal leadership on coronavirus https://t.co/XiMQcunE6y

“We have a lieutenant governor who decided he doesn’t want to listen to Fauci and those people anymore. That makes a lot of sense. How safe can that be? The messaging is ridiculous.

“The governor goes back and forth based on whether he has to satisfy Trump or listen to the numbers—politics show maybe he better do this because the virus has done that. But no overall policy, no principle. It’s all about politics. It’s all about what’s good for them. And ‘them’ mostly means Trump. Because they’re all cowards and they’re all afraid.”

Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon also stood for the anthem, per Evan Closky of KENS 5.

Earlier in the day, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac stood for the national anthem. He also chose not to wear the Black Lives Matter T-shirt that all players have donned during pregame warmups and the anthem.

He explained why to Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks following his team’s 128-118 win over the Brooklyn Nets:

Taylor Rooks @TaylorRooks

I asked Jonathan Isaac two questions:

You didn’t kneel during the anthem but you also didn’t wear a black lives matter shirt. Do you believe black lives matter?

Can you explain what religion has to do with kneeling for the anthem to protest against racism and police brutality? https://t.co/me61FleWPY

Sixteen of the 22 NBA teams in Disney World for the league’s restart have played their first games on the league’s campus, with six more yet to suit up.

Those six will hit the hardwood Saturday, starting with the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets at 1 p.m. ET.