Donald Trump’s Lies Set Off Top NBA Coaches

Unlike Bill Belichick, who is sticking to sports

Kerr and Popovich reading Trump's tweets — Getty Images
Jan 23, 2017 at 12:49 PM ET

President Donald Trump and various members of his now-three-day-old administration spent the weekend lobbing lies about the number of individuals who attended the inauguration, a figure that was soon dwarfed by Saturday’s Women’s March, in which an estimated 500,000 people traveled to Washington, D.C. and 3.2 million in total protested across the United States. But for two NBA coaches, it’s clear that they are not going to remain silent when presented with “alternative facts.”

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who previously said Trump’s election day victory made him “sick to his stomach,” was asked about the protests prior to Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and he came out swinging.

“You really can’t believe anything that comes out of [Trump’s] mouth,” Popovich said, pointing to the years Trump spent ‘investigating’ Obama’s birth certificate, his denial that he’d mocked a handicapped reporter, and his insistence that he’d seen “thousands” of Muslims celebrating on 9/11. Popovich, who served in the Air Force for five years, also lambasted Trump for using his speech at the CIA to complain that the media had fabricated attendance figures order to discredit him. (They had not.)

That said, the ongoing protests gave Popovich hope.

But I felt great today watching the march, in protest to how he has conducted himself, because it tells me I really do live in a country where a lot of people care. We have to be vigilant, to make sure that although we all hope he does good things for our country, we don’t get embarrassed by him and roll back liberties that have been worked for for so long in so many different areas.

Popovich’s remarks came prior to Press Secretary Sean Spicer being sent before the White House Press Corps on Saturday to falsely state, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period — both in person and around the globe.”

Again, it was not. But Spicer’s blatant disregard for reality has proved an easy target for mockery, such that Steve Kerr, the Golden State Warriors head coach and an outspoken Trump critic, joined in on the hilarity on Sunday. During the pre-game introductions, the Orlando Magic announcer beefed up his brief and unremarkable playing resume with the Magic, calling Kerr a “former Orlando Magic star.”

When asked if that description fell under the category of “alternative facts,” Kerr agreed.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes. Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now,” he said, laughing. “14,000 points. Best player in Orlando Magic history.”

Popovich’s and Kerr’s statements stand in stark contrast to the those of Bill Belichick, who previously wrote Trump a very Trump-ian letter of encouragement. The President dropped Belichick’s name during a pre-inauguration dinner on Thursday and Belichick was asked what he thought. Rather than acknowledge his political beliefs or offer some mealy-mouthed words of appreciation, he dodged the question entirely. “I mean really just… we have a big game,” he said.

And while it’s fun turn Sean Spicer into a meme, chuckle at Trump’s eyeball crowd estimate, or gape in incredulity at Kellyanne Conway’s Orwellian language – especially when evidence to the contrary can be found in plain sight – just wait until this administration throws out statements that can’t be easily fact-checked, like the number of casualties in an ongoing conflict.