Popovich, a United States Air Force Academy graduate who served five years of active service in the U.S. Air Force before becoming the head coach of Spurs, stood with his hands beside him as he does while playing the anthem in every game. .
Hammon, Spurs’ head assistant coach, stood in line with the players. She put one arm over the shoulder of Will Hardy, another Spurs assistant who was kneeling to his right, and the other over veteran San Antonio guard Patty Mills, who was kneeling to his left.
Popovich and Hammon both wore “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts, as almost every player and coach did for the warm-ups and the anthem.
Ahead of the game, Popovich made it clear that the decision to kneel rests with each person, but that the organization – and the NBA – as a whole unequivocally supports the fight for racial justice.
“With the events we have all witnessed over this past year, it just makes sense and wise to try to keep that momentum going, to keep going and trying to keep this in the spotlight,” said Popovich. “Because it’s a national embarrassment. It keeps us from being the country we should be and the country that everyone has been promised.
“Nothing more moving than having all the teams here committed to making statements and making it known that this needs to change. And not just a little bit.
During the NBA hiatus, the five-time NBA champion spoke about the race issues of the United States, denouncing US President Donald Trump for his inability to “just say that Black Lives Matter” and urging Americans to heed the country’s racist history – and how it continues to affect the present.