San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joined the chorus of prominent voices in sport to speak up after protests across the United States against police brutality and racial injustice erupted following the death of George Floyd.
Popovich, in his 24th year coaching the Spurs, pointed to a lack of leadership as a reason for an apparent decline in race relations in the USA.
"The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we've seen it all before but nothing changes," Popovich told The Nation.
"That's why these protests have been so explosive. But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change.
"And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it's been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change."
The five-time NBA champion coach, who has previously been critical of President Donald Trump, blasted the White House's response to the protests.
"It's unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 per cent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn't care about bringing people together. Even now," Popovich said.
"That's how deranged he is. It's all about him. It's all about what benefits him personally. It's never about the greater good. And that's all he's ever been."
"It's so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that 'Black Lives Matter.' Just say those three words. But he won't and he can't. He can’t because it's more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity.
"He's not just divisive. He's a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die. He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I'm appalled that we have a leader who can't say 'Black Lives Matter.' That's why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward. He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler."
Popovich also criticised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and called him "the person who really runs the country".
While Popovich's disdain for the Trump administration has been well known, his statements to The Nation are his strongest to date.
"It's more than just Trump. The system has to change," he said. "I'll do whatever I can do to help because that's what leaders do. But he can't do anything to put us on a positive path because he's not a leader."
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