When it comes to the modern era of the NBA there are very few who are more respected by their peers than Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and longtime San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Not only are both legendary for their accomplishments in basketball, but neither has been afraid to speak out on any social issues. With the country still continuing to go through different challenges in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, both James and Popovich provided important commentary on a number of topics.
In fact, many will view James as one of the most important athletes in sports history because of his off-court achievements and Popovich is among them. During his pregame media session Thursday night, Popovich heaped praise on James and spoke about being extremely proud of him for everything he has done, via CLNS Media:
“I think he’s going to be an iconic figure. Nobody can be what Muhammad Ali was as far as sport is concerned. But in that same genre, I am so proud of this guy and so pleased for him. From the time he came in as a teenager, to see his development now, basketball, sure, fine.
“But as a human being, as a citizen, as someone who looks at the social issues of our time, he’s willing to speak out about them and he doesn’t do it with hate. He just tells the truth and lays it out there. It enables everybody else to feel good about understanding that they do have a first amendment right and that they can do these things. It’s one of the greatest things about our country. He’s a very special person in that regard.”
This further goes to show the respect that is there between these two legends. James has faced Popovich in the NBA Finals on three different occasions, but everything he has done off the court and in the community is far more important.
As Popovich noted, James simply tells the truth and how he feels with no fear of repercussion, and that is something many others are afraid to do. LeBron has laid a foundation for the athletes of the future to use their platform to enact change and for that he is indeed, a special person.
Frank Vogel wants to handle social justice issues his own way
While Popovich is one of the most outspoken sports figures in history, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has been been more measured in his approach. Vogel believes that each person must go about these issues in their own way and for him, it may not be the same as that of Popovich or Steve Kerr.
“I think every person has to handle these issues individually, within their personality and what they feel comfortable with,” Vogel said.
“So I’ve tried to be my own person in that regard and certainly respect everybody’s decisions on these matters. Whether to speak out strongly, whether to not speak out, to speak out not as strongly as some others.
“These are individual choices and there’s no blueprint for it. For me, it’s important when things like this happen, to speak up. And it’s also important to do some of the work behind the scenes as much as you can.”
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