DALLAS -- San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's pregame media availability Sunday opened with the NBA's all-time wins leader declining to discuss whether he would consider retirement this offseason and ended with an unprompted, passionate speech lobbying for gun control legislation in America and criticizing "cowardly legislators who are selfish."
Popovich, 74, has expressed strong opinions on gun control and other political issues frequently in recent years. He made a point to bring up the subject as his media session before the 138-117 win over the Dallas Mavericks seemed to be wrapping up, asking whether anyone in the room was carrying a firearm.
"I just wondered because we have a governor and lieutenant governor and an attorney general that made it easier to have more guns," Popovich said, referring to Texas politicians. "That was a response to our kids getting murdered. I just thought that was a little bit strange decision. It's just me, though."
During a speech that lasted more than nine minutes, Popovich criticized several Republican legislators, particularly in Texas and Tennessee. He expressed outrage about the expulsion of Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson from the Tennessee House of Representative after the pair of Black Democrats led gun control demonstrations on the chamber floor last week in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville.
"Well, since you asked, what would it take to budge those people? What would it take?" Popovich said. "I mean, we've got two young Black guys in Tennessee who just got railroaded by a bunch of people that I would bet down deep in their soul want to go back to Jim Crow. And what they just did is a good start. It's beyond comprehension. And what were they guilty of? They actually protested?
"Those [Tennessee Republican] legislators called those kids that were protesting insurrectionists. That's hard to believe in America. But America ain't what we thought America was. It's changed. So if those kids are insurrectionists, what were the people on January 6th? What do we call them? What's the next step or word or level of violence after insurrectionists? I don't know what it is. What will it take?"
Popovich then picked up a piece of paper and read a statement from Republican Tennessee U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn that was released after a shooter killed three 9-year-olds and three adults at a private elementary school in Nashville last month.
"I mean, I couldn't believe it, so I wrote this thing down, but Senator Marsha Blackburn, her comment after was, after the massacre, 'My office is in contact with federal, state and local officials and we stand ready to assist,''' Popovich read.
"In what?! They're dead!" Popovich shouted. "What are you going to assist with -- cleaning up their brains off the wall, wiping the blood off the schoolroom floor? What are you going to assist with?
"And then there's Governor Lee. I'm sorry to go on and on, but Bill Lee: 'I'm closely monitoring the tragic situation. Please join us in prayer.' What are you monitoring? They're dead! Children -- they're dead. When I pick up my 6- and 11-year-old grandkids at school, when I'm here at home, on the way it goes through my mind that I hope they're going to be OK."
Popovich called resistance to gun control legislation an attempt to "cloak all this stuff [in] the myth of the Second Amendment," and criticized Republican lawmakers who have made family Christmas cards posing with guns.
"I mean, I couldn't believe it, so I wrote this thing down, but [U.S.] Senator Marsha Blackburn, her comment after was, after the massacre, 'My office is in contact with federal, state and local officials and we stand ready to assist.' In what?! They're dead! What are you going to assist with -- cleaning up their brains off the wall, wiping the blood off the schoolroom floor? What are you going to assist with?" Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
"You know, the greed of the gun lobbies and the manufacturers is obvious," Popovich said. "We all know that. Money talks, but the cowardice and the selfishness of the legislators who are so scared to death of being primaried and losing their job, losing their power, losing their salary -- you'd like to get each one of 'em in a room just one by one and say, 'What's more important to you? If you could vote for some good gun safety laws that most of the public agrees to, would you do that if it saved one kid? Or is your job and your money so important to you that you would say, screw the kid? What's, what's in your mind?'"
Popovich mentioned events from the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam War and the murder of George Floyd of examples of gruesome violence being shown in gory detail that influenced public opinion.
"So what will it take? Do we have to show it? Do we have to show that classroom?" Popovich said. "That's a pretty big step, right? That's just gross to think about. But do we need to show it, like the girl running with Napalm on her back? So they actually see that these parents couldn't even tell if it was their kid, that they had to go the DNA route. Will that wake up [U.S. Sen.] Josh Hawley, so he won't be running like this [raises his right fist] to the whatever they were, insurrectionists? I don't know what the next word would be.
"You know, these people, they think we're stupid -- Republican and Democratic alike. But they might be right because they get away with that crap. They tell us things about prayers and you know, their offices are monitoring this stuff, like I said. Get away from me. Stop all the bulls---. Stop talking down to us. We're not stupid, but they will do it to keep their jobs."