In a clip posted to Twitter by Hawks.com writer KL Chouinard, Popovich reflected on King's dedication to the civil rights movement. The head coach said that his legacy is diminished due to the current political climate and that the work King dedicated his life to must carry on today.
"His persistence, as I look back, at an unbelievably young age, when he started peaceful protests, it wasn't just for the black population," Popovich said. "He understood that racism was our national sin, and if we didn't come together, it would bring everyone down – including white people. And that promise that he basically demanded everyone fulfill from way back when is what put us on the road to making America great."
Popovich on playing on MLK Day: "If someone says that they're not a racist, you know that they are." pic.twitter.com/0s3uyW0Pzq— KL Chouinard (@KLChouinard) January 15, 2018
Of course, we know who Popovich means when he talks about people claiming not to be a racist (after calling African countries and Haiti "shithole countries") – even if he doesn't say names.
"You can argue that he is or isn't," Popovich said Monday. "But what really is disgusting to me is that even if you wanted to say that he's not a racist, or as he says, he is the least racist – I don't even understand that term – he certainly is willing to wield race like a weapon and use it for his own purposes."
Since the 2016 presidential election, Popovich has spoken his mind about now-president Donald Trump and the country's political climate on multiple occasions. Last February, Popovich called the treatment of African-Americans "our national sin." In almost a year since then, Popovich hasn't held back the criticism, saying America feels like we've been "invaded by another power" and that there's "a cloud ... over the whole country." At the same time, Popovich has also called Trump a "soulless coward" and "pathological liar."
"I think we all have a responsibility to call out injustice and racism," Popovich said Monday.
You can read the full transcript of Popovich's Monday interview, including details of the moment he found out King had been assassinated below, as it was shared by Chouinard (click to enlarge).