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Team USA coach Gregg Popovich praises Colin Kaepernick for sense of patriotism

Gregg Popovich, Colin Kaepernick

It has been nearly three long years since Colin Kaepernick stepped foot on the gridiron and played professional football alongside the rest of the San Francisco 49ers. The former Super Bowl quarterback has said he’s “still ready” to make a comeback to the league, even if it has been a while since he last threw a perfect spiral to a fellow NFL receiver.

San Antonio Spurs and Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich praised Kaepernick when talking about what it means to have a sense of patriotism, quickly lauding the former NFL QB for his crusade to bring awareness to civil injustices:

“To negate that part of what we’re able to do is ignorant on anybody’s part who tries to make those people look unpatriotic,” said Popovich after Tuesday’s practice at the Los Angeles Lakers’ facility, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Like a Kaepernick. That was a very patriotic thing he did. He cared about his country enough to fix some things that were obvious, that everybody knows about but does nothing about.”

Popovich, a former Air Force graduate who has been known to be one of the very few NBA coaches to engage in talks of social and political conscience, explained what patriotism really means to him:

“Patriotism means a lot of things to different people,” he said. “There’s people who are truly committed in that sense and people who are fake. The show of patriotism I think is a bit inappropriate and that is not something that I think we want to emulate. Because someone hugs a flag doesn’t mean they’re patriotic. Being a patriot is somebody that respects their country and understands that the best thing about our country is that we have the ability to fix things that have not come to fruition for a lot of people so far.”

“All the promises in the beginning when the country was established is fantastic, but those goals have not been reached yet for a lot of people. So you can still be patriotic and understand that there still needs to be criticism and changes and more attention paid to those who do not have what other people do have, and that’s where we’ve fallen short in a lot of different ways. Being a critic of those inequalities does not make you a non-patriot. It’s what makes America great, that you can say those things and attack those things to make them better. That’s what a lot of other countries don’t have. You lose your freedom when you do that.”

Sitting or kneeling for the anthem once again has come in question as the NFL season looms closer, as well as the recent show in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where a fencer and a hammer thrower chose to kneel and raise an arm, respectively, to protest the injustices during their moments on the medal stand. Team USA players could also have this sort of action if they make it to the podium in the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.