San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games, citing racial injustice and police brutality, has sparked a major reaction across the sports world. During the NBA’s media days around the country on Monday, players and coaches spoke out about the social issues the U.S. is facing.
San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich gave a pointed response when asked his thoughts about social unrest in the country.
And Kupchak again deferred such questions as the youthful Lakers, without the retired Kobe Bryant, opened training camp.
“I’m not really in a position to debate some of the stuff,” Kupchak said. “I’m not even sure what was said with certainty. From my point of view, we’ve created a team that has a lot of young talent that can grow into, I believe, really good [players] and hopefully NBA players that can leave an imprint on this league.
“I think we’ve surrounded them with some older veterans that can help us win games. I’m excited about our coaching staff. I want to see improvement in the young players. I want to see some production from our rookies. And I want our team to be fun to watch. And I want them to have fun playing. And I want them to get better as the season goes along.
“I don’t know how that translates to anything else under my control. Wins and losses, I couldn’t pick a number. I could guess. I would not guess in front of [media]. That’s not something I would do. I’d have to stare at it for the rest of the year.”
Kupchak did state, however, that the Lakers’ improvement would be measured in part by wins.
“I think it’s really dangerous to answer such important questions that have confounded so many people for hundreds of years, to ask me to give you my solutions, as if I had any, in 30 seconds,” Popovich said. “So if you want to be specific about a question, I’ll be more than happy to answer it because I think race is the elephant in the room in our country. The social situation that we’ve all experienced is absolutely disgusting in a lot of ways. What’s really interesting is the people that jump right away to say, one is attacking the police, or the people that jump on the other side. It’s a question where understanding and empathy has to trump, no pun intended, has to trump any quick reactions of an ideological or demagogical nature. It’s a topic that can’t just be swung at; people have to be very accurate and direct in what they say and do.”
“We want to do it in the right way,” Anthony said Monday. “Whatever we do, we want to do it as a collective group.”
Anthony also said he wants to continue to bring awareness to these issues.