Gregg Popovich already had expressed his discontent with Donald Trump being elected president and his support for the protest marches that followed his inauguration. So, it was hardly a surprise when the Spurs head coach responded Sunday to the executive order on immigration the president issued Friday.
The executive order indefinitely banned refugees from Syria from entering the United States, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
Asked during a pregame press conference that preceded the Spurs’ Sunday night game against the Dallas Mavericks if he had any particular thoughts about the executive order, Popovich spoke candidly.
“As you already know, I have lots of thoughts about what we’ve done to ourselves as a country, what we have allowed to happen,” Popovich said. “But we’ll see where this goes. Obviously, the rollout today is Keystone Kop-like, by any measure of objectivity. Whether you want to say it is good or bad is irrelevant. But it was Keystone Kops, and that’s scary.”
The NBA this season has 110 international players from 41 countries. Two players – Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker and Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng – are from Sudan, one of the seven Muslim-majority countries cited in the executive order.
Through league spokesman Mike Bass, the NBA on Saturday issued a statement about Trump’s executive order: “We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries. The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world.”
Among the first NBA teams to sign international players, the Spurs this season have five international players: Tony Parker (France); Manu Ginobili (Argentina); Pau Gasol (Spain), Patty Mills (Australia); and Davis Bertans (Latvia). Assistant coach Ettore Messina is from Italy.
Roughly four hours after Popovich weighed in on Trump’s Executive Order, his team fell to the Mavericks, 105-101. It was the second consecutive loss for the Spurs, now 36-11 for the season, still the NBA’s second-best record.