When Spurs coach Gregg Popovich watched George Floyd's death on video, it reminded him of what he'd seen in history books. He didn't expect to see it in 2020.
"I think I'm just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen," Popovich said in a video on the Spurs' Twitter account. "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."
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. The officer, Derek Chauvin, faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers at the scene were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. All four officers were fired.
"In a strange, counterintuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this recent tragedy, I think, was the look on (Chauvin's) face," Popovich said. "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."
“It’s got to be us that speak truth to power, that call it out no matter the consequences. We have to not let anything go. Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”#SpursVoices pic.twitter.com/uTyOIzGnTg
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) June 6, 2020
Popovich said it's time for white people to help lead a change after "black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years."
"The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence, patience and effort of black people," he said. "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."