Gregg Popovich has never been one to shy away from discussing controversial topics unrelated to basketball.
It was then only natural that many thought he would speak publicly about the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton as Team USA opened its training camp on Monday in Las Vegas.
But the Spurs’ head coach had a different approach. It was one of unity and accomplishing a goal, together as a team.
"We can't fix the divisiveness in our country, but what we can do is be a great example of how people come together for a common goal and achieve it," Popovich said.
There will likely be a time when Popovich speaks out again on various issues or topics, but for now, he’s kept the focus on putting together the best team possible to compete in the upcoming FIBA World Cup.
“This is the most satisfying form of putting a bunch of guys together, and them having empathy and love for each other to form the kind of team they're going to have to have to beat some really good European teams,” Popovich said.
A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Popovich has achieved a lifelong goal of becoming the head basketball coach for the national team. He has an understanding what wearing USA across a player’s chest means.
"This is beyond playing for an NBA team," said Popovich. "This is the highest level you can be and it means so much for all of these guys down the road when they're retired from all basketball."
Popovich believes Team USA has an an opportunity to be an inspiration and set an example. He’s put politics aside to set a tone of unity and cohesiveness as Team USA prepares to take on the world’s best in China.
"We have a huge responsibility, not only for the country, to do this in a classy manner, but to continue the success that USA basketball has had over the last 12 years,” Popovich said.