The fact that not everyone in Texas is a far-right Republican was evident on Sunday, January 23, when San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was interviewed by reporters and spoke his mind about voting rights — slamming not only Republicans, but also, two centrist Democrats: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Before the Spurs’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers — the basketball team known for everyone from Julius Erving, a.k.a. Dr. J., to Allen Iverson — the 72-year-old Popovich told reporters:
“As many have said, it’s been time, it’s past time for hardball. The Republican Senate will just not participate, they just will not. So, whatever can be done needs to be done. And Sinema and Manchin, they get it, but they don’t get it. They know what’s going on. They understand. But there are more important things to them, and it’s damn selfish and dangerous to our country," said Popvich.
Although Manchin and Sinema have voiced their support for voting rights — Manchin has pushed the Freedom to Vote Act as an alternative to the more comprehensive For the People Act — they are adamantly opposed to altering the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to pass. And Democrats, with their narrow Senate majority, don’t have 60 votes.
Some voting rights activists have proposed a compromise to Manchin and Sinema: keep the filibuster on the whole, but create an exception for voting rights. Manchin and Sinema, however, are even opposed to that.
Popovich, who is vehemently opposed to the voter suppression bills being proposed by Republicans in state legislators, told reporters, “It’s ironic, but as much as the community of color has been oppressed and denigrated, those are the people who try to save this damn country from itself. It’s just ironic to me.”
Popovich continued, “Every time we take steps forward, you get the backlash. The fact that the voting rights issue is in the situation it’s in is just mind-boggling to me in one sense, because we’ve already gone through this back in the ‘60s — and we know what the Supreme Court did earlier in gutting it. But it's like, we don’t get it. It’s like, maybe there wouldn’t be a democracy if it wasn’t for Black people.”
Popovich, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has been the Spurs’ coach since 1996.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet