SAN ANTONIO -- Gregg Popovich shook his head Wednesday upon hearing about an online petition started locally to rename Robert E. Lee High School after the San Antonio Spurs coach.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Popovich said. “Are you serious?”
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Emmanuel Casasola, a 2002 graduate of Robert E. Lee decided to start the online petition after a discussion about the controversy surrounding landmarks and schools with names tied to the Confederacy.
In the petition, Casasola wrote that Popovich “is loved and revered all over the country as the best coach in all of sports and one of the greatest coaches of all time. He started his NBA coaching career in San Antonio with Larry Brown, and except for a few years when he went to Golden State, he has been in San Antonio ever since. He has been instrumental in creating an organizational culture in the Spurs which is the envy of the entire NBA. His capacity for leadership, personnel development, and work ethic should be something we teach our kids to strive for and should be honored.”
Popovich wasn’t as enamored with the idea.
“I would hope that you would use all your muscle, whatever you have to squash that ridiculous idea as soon as humanly possible,” Popovich joked. “Squash that ridiculous idea right now. That’s just laughable. That’s ridiculous. That’s all I can think of; absolutely ridiculous.”
Now in his 20th season with the Spurs, Popovich is the longest tenured coach with the same team in all four professional sports. A three-time NBA coach of the Year with five championships on his resume, Popovich is one of just nine coaches to reach 1,000 victories.
“It’s probably that obsession America has with celebrity,” Popovich said. “So if you reach any level of celebrity, there’s gonna be somebody who’s going to take it too far, and attach to you qualities that are not there or glory you don’t deserve, all that kind of crap. It happens all the time. I don’t need anything named after me.”
Signers of Casasola’s online petition disagree, as his plea on Friday to change the name of Robert E. Lee High has reached more than 1,200 signatures.