Throughout nearly three decades as the coach of San Antonio, Gregg Popovich gave ample samples of not avoiding any topic and offering his opinion, regardless of the consequences that his words could have. From sports issues, such as the tightness of the NBA calendar and then not using its stars in a game on consecutive nights almost as a protest, to political events, such as repudiating any decision of former President Donald Trump or actively getting involved in the campaign vaccination against coronavirus.
So it is not surprising to see the veteran coach involved in social or historical issues. And this time, Popovich’s voice rang out loud to criticize the authorities of some cities in his country, which keep October 12 as a holiday and a day of recognition for Christopher Columbus for the discovery of America and not as a day of reflection for the annihilated indigenous populations.
“He started the genocide of the New World”, was the sharp response of the Spurs coach at the press conference in which he was consulted by the figure of the Genoese navigator. “He set in motion everything that came later, the annihilation of every indigenous person in Hispaniola, what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He made them slaves, mutilated them and murdered them.”said the former Emanuel Ginobili coach during his 15 NBA seasons.
Popovich’s anger grew when it was suggested that the idea of celebrating Columbus Day was an honor for Italian-Americans because of its alleged Genoese origin. “That’s nonsense, it’s like saying, ‘We should be proud of Hitler for being German.’ It doesn’t make sense. It’s a day about Columbus, not about Italian-Americans.”, ranted the 72-year-old DT.
The curious talk and comparison of Columbus to Hitler stemmed from Popovich learning that a San Antonio school district had given students Monday off to celebrate Columbus Day. “Are we so far behind that we have school districts that do that? I’m impressed. Just amazed.” said the San Antonio Spurs coach, just in the week before the start of a new NBA season.