San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich is joining Texas Democrats seeking to rally political support around gun control in the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. 

Speaking at a Stand With Uvalde rally in Travis Park Saturday, Popovich criticized Gov. Greg Abbott for holding roundtables on gun violence after the 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School but failing to implement any of the reforms discussed at the time.  

“After the last massacre, [Abbott] made statements and promises that he would look at the gun laws, he would look at the legislation. Nothing happened,” said Popovich.

He went on to praise Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Abbott this November, for confronting the governor at a press conference in Uvalde last month. Though the move drew criticism from Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who said O’Rourke was “sick” for politicizing a tragedy, Popovich’s comments at the gathering of Democrats on Saturday were met with cheers.

“The first reaction of the people up on the dais was, ‘You’re out of line,’” Popovich said of the Uvalde press conference, which included Texas statewide leaders and Uvalde city officials. “Who’s out of line? You’re out of line because you haven’t done crap and 19 more [children] were murdered.”

Amirah Spears, left, and her brother Arion hold signs during a rally Saturday in San Antonio to express solidarity with the victims of last week’s Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.
Amirah Spears, left, and her brother Arion hold signs during a rally Saturday in San Antonio to express solidarity with the Uvalde community in the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

Popovich has long been an outspoken critic of Republicans, including former president Donald Trump, to the irritation of some Spurs fans who wish he’d stay away from talking about politics. 

At Saturday’s gathering of Democrats, however, the coach was the fan favorite of a speaker lineup that included O’Rourke, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. 

Holding up a notebook as he took the stage, Popovich acknowledged that the speech he was about to give wouldn’t sit well with all of his fans.

“I’ve got all these things I want to say, I’m not sure if I should do it or not,” he joked, before launching into a speech that focused criticism on Abbott, and the state’s two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. 

“We’ve got to vote them out of there so that we can save our children,” said Popovich, who suggested the state’s leaders should be huddling to discuss gun control solutions every day until they can come to an agreement.

“They work for us. The majority of us want them to do something about the gun laws,” said Popovich. 

Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have so far ignored calls from Democrats to call a special session of the legislature, instead forming a committee to talk about the issues ahead of the 2023 session. In Washington, Cornyn is part of a committee tasked with seeking solutions that could rally support from Republicans and Democrats.

“It’s always a good idea to speak truth to power because people who are in power want to keep that power and they’ll do anything they can to keep it,” Popovich said Saturday. “We’ve learned that here in Texas.”

Avatar photo

Andrea Drusch

Andrea Drusch writes about local government for the San Antonio Report. She's covered politics in Washington, D.C., and Texas for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, National Journal and Politico.