NBA head coach Gregg Popovich criticized President Donald Trump Friday over the president’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“It was our president blaming Barack Obama for the fact we don’t have the kits we need right now. Seriously, I think he thinks Barack Obama tripped [1984 U.S. Olympian and 3,000-meter runner] Mary Decker,” Popovich said, as reported by the New York Post.
“Seriously, so you know if it affects him personally in a financial or political way and it’s positive, he’ll tout about it and he’ll brag about it forever. But if it goes against him whether it’s a person or an organization, he’ll go after it. We all know why: Because he’s a coward,” Popovich said.
The Spurs head coach was referencing comments Trump made while meeting with airline CEOs in the White House with regards to testing being done to address the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” Trump said at the meeting. “We undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion. That was a decision we disagreed with. I don’t think we would have made it, but for some reason it was made.”
It was unclear which Obama regulation Trump referred to in the meeting. When asked to clarify at the meeting, Vice President Mike Pence said: “The last administration asserted FDA jurisdiction over testing and the development of tests like this. The president changed that on Saturday. States now have the ability to conduct the coronavirus tests in state labs, university laboratory.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, further elaborated that the previous administration put regulations in place at the Food and Drug Administration that slowed the ability of university and state labs to develop tests.
“What the president’s decision did was allow that regulatory relief now and that those university labs and those other labs in this country now can be fully engaged in developing laboratory diagnostics for the clinical arena,” Redfield said.
Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Brett Giroir told Newsweek in an email Saturday: “Testing capacity is ramping up substantially, with 1.5 million tests produced last week. 1.1 million have been shipped, and 400,000 are ready to ship – likely on Monday – to fill incoming orders. We expect approximately 4 million additional tests to be produced next week.”
Meanwhile, Popovich, a previous critic of the president, also lauded NBA players for their refusal to attend the White House after winning a championship, a long-held sports tradition.
“Players made their feelings known not going to the White House. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not just being flippant or disrespectful. Weak people who are basically demagogues at heart make those kinds of arguments. If you protest something then you’re disloyal, you’re unpatriotic.”
Newsweek reached out to the Spurs organization and the White House for further comment Saturday, but they did not respond in time for publication.