Tony Parker found himself in some trouble recently when a photo of him surfaced that showed him making a controversial gesture that has racist implications for some.
Parker issued an apology through the team, largely pleading ignorance of the gesture’s meaning while promising never to do it again and promote awareness so that others can avoid it, as well.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was asked about it before Tuesday’s home contest against the Nets, and his words of support of Parker during this incident should have come as no surprise.
“I talked with Tony,” Popovich said about 90 minutes before Tuesday’s game with Brooklyn. “I felt bad for him. Tony doesn’t have an anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim or anti-Christian bone in his body. That gesture was made three years ago and at that time he thought it meant something totally different.
“Which it did, to him. It’s morphed into something else over time. But it’s a tribute to his leadership and his leadership to understand it has morphed, as he found out, into something pretty hateful. He realized he needed to say something, that’s it not appropriate.
“There’s enough bigotry and racism and hatred in the world already. That thing has been taken too far. When he was informed of that and understood it, he was very quick to denounce it and understand what he had to do. So I was proud of him.”
Popovich has always been a father figure to Parker (and Tim Duncan), so his words of encouragement here are to be expected.
It always strikes me as how tone deaf athletes can be with regards to situations like these; the comedian in question has a history of racist controversies, yet Parker was happy to have his picture taken with him while making this controversial gesture.