Skip to main content

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich opened up about racism and the killing of George Floyd in an emotional video Saturday. 

Popovich said he's "embarrassed as a white person" to know Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, could die in such a horrific way while Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd's neck in a "nonchalant" manner for over eight minutes. 

"In a strange, counterintuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this recent tragedy, I think, was the look on the officer's face," Popovich said in the video, which is part of the #SpursVoices series online. "For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, just how everyday-going-about-his job, so much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson—and that it was his right and his duty to do it, in his mind.

"I think I'm just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen. To actually watch a lynching. We've all seen books, and you look in the books and you see black people hanging off of trees. And you...are amazed. But we just saw it again. I never thought I'd see that, with my own eyes, in real-time."

Chauvin was arrested last week and faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. The three other officers present, also fired, are facing charges of aiding and abetting murder.

SI Recommends

Popovich, who has been outspoken in the past about racism, spoke up earlier this week about the widespread demonstrations across the country against police brutality in an interview with Dave Zirin of The Nation. In Saturday's video, he urged white people to step up and call for change.

"We have to do it. Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years," he said. "The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence, patience and effort of black people. The history of our nation from the very beginning in many ways was a lie, and we continue to this day, mostly black and brown people, to try to make that lie a truth so that it is no longer a lie. And those rights and privileges are enjoyed by people of color, just like we enjoy them. 

"So it's got to be us, in my opinion, that speak truth to power, and call it out, no matter what the consequences. We have to speak. We have to not let anything go."

Popovich ended the video with a powerful plea to take action.

"It's like the neighborhood where you know there's a dangerous corner, and you know that something's going to happen someday, and nobody does anything," Popovich said. "And then a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up. Well, without getting too political, we've got a lot of stop signs that need to go up quickly because our country is in trouble. And the basic reason is race."