SPORTS

Trump Praises San Antonio Spurs, A Team That Rejects Trumpism In Every Way

The NBA franchise embraces immigrants and women and stands against bigotry.

Donald Trump took a break from bashing fellow Republicans on Tuesday to praise the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs during a fundraiser in the team’s hometown.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the country were run like that?” the GOP presidential nominee asked, referring to the Spurs, according to Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek.

The Spurs, indeed, have been an ideal NBA franchise over the last two decades, winning five NBA titles and making the playoffs every season since 1997.

But Trump must not be much of a basketball fan. If he paid any attention to the NBA, he’d know that on the court and off, the Spurs operate in a manner completely opposite of the way he wants to run the country. And that’s not just because head coach Gregg Popovich has built a consistent winner that avoids the type of craven media attention Trump so desperately seeks.

The Spurs Are A Team Of Immigrants

Manu Ginobli, a native of Argentina, is one of many foreign-born players who have played major roles for the Spurs durin
Manu Ginobli, a native of Argentina, is one of many foreign-born players who have played major roles for the Spurs during their dominating run.

The entire NBA has experienced a boom in foreign-born players in recent decades, but no franchise has capitalized on it like the Spurs. 

The team’s championship rosters have featured stars like Argentina’s Manu Ginobli and France’s Tony Parker, and role players like Tiago Splitter (Brazil), Boris Diaw (France) and Patty Mills, the second indigenous Australian to ever play in the NBA. Nazr Mohammed, an American-born Muslim whose parents were Ghanaian immigrants, played for the Spurs’ 2005 championship team. 

The Spurs set the record for most foreign-born NBA players on a single roster in 2012, but the title lasted just one year, because the Spurs broke it in 2013 (counting Tim Duncan, an American citizen born in the U.S. Virgin Islands).

In 2015, the Spurs used their second-round draft pick on Cady Lalanne, a Haitian who once lived in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. The team has nine foreign-born players on its 2016 roster.

The Spurs Have Stood Up To Anti-Immigrant Xenophobia

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich called racist critics of Sebastien De La La Cruz "idiots" who were "proud of their ignorance"
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich called racist critics of Sebastien De La La Cruz "idiots" who were "proud of their ignorance" during the 2013 NBA Finals.

While Trump has stoked xenophobia and racism against immigrants ― especially those from Mexico ― the Spurs have pushed back against such outbursts. In 2013, the team invited Sebastien De La Cruz, an 11-year-old Mexican American, to sing the national anthem before Game 3 of the NBA Finals. 

De La Cruz took the court in a traditional mariachi suit and delivered a rousing version of the anthem. But his performance drew racist backlash on social media, where people made fun of him with insults like, “They prolly made this Mexican sing to stay in America.”

Popovich blasted the “idiots” who were “proud of their ignorance.” The franchise went further: it invited De La Cruz back to sing the anthem before Game 4.

The Spurs Put A Woman In Charge

Becky Hammon, the first woman to earn a full-time NBA coaching job, led the Spurs to the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League champio
Becky Hammon, the first woman to earn a full-time NBA coaching job, led the Spurs to the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League championship.

In August 2014, the Spurs made former WNBA player Becky Hammon the first woman to hold a full-time assistant coaching job in NBA history. The next summer, the Spurs made Hammon the head coach of their Las Vegas Summer League team. Hammon led them to the Summer League title, and in 2016, became the first woman to coach in the NBA All-Star Game.

Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly questioned whether Hillary Clinton ― the first woman to earn a major party’s presidential nomination ― has the energy or stamina to serve as president, and has lobbed repeated sexist attacks at his opponent (to say nothing of past lewd and sexist comments that are now plaguing his campaign).

The Spurs Backed An LGBT Rights Ordinance In San Antonio

Trump has repeatedly said that he would be pro-LGBT rights as president, but his record doesn’t quite back up that rhetoric. He opposes marriage equality, for instance, and selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ― an anti-LGBT Republican ― as his running mate.

The Spurs, by contrast, publicly supported a 2013 San Antonio ordinance that added sexual orientation and gender identity to city nondiscrimination laws. The ordinance passed.

Gregg Popovich Supported Colin Kaepernick’s Protests 

Gregg Popovich said before the 2016 season that he would support his players' decision to protest during the national anthem
Gregg Popovich said before the 2016 season that he would support his players' decision to protest during the national anthem if they chose to do so.

Popovich hasn’t shied away from politics during his time as the Spurs head coach, especially in the last few years. Before this season, a reporter asked his opinion of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

“I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done,” Popovich said. “It’s easier for white people because we haven’t lived that experience. It’s difficult for many white people to understand the day-to-day feeling that many black people have to deal with.”

Popovich said that Kaepernick had forced people “to face the issue,” and that he would support his players if they chose to protest.

Trump has told Kaepernick to “find a country that works better for him.” He has accused the Black Lives Matter movement of instigating police killings and suggested the movement should be under federal investigation.

Popovich, by the way, doesn’t seem to be a fan of Trump, if his mid-game reaction to learning that The Donald had won February’s New Hampshire primary is any indication:

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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