LOS ANGELES — While several of his coaching colleagues took direct aim at Donald Trump following the Republican’s unexpected election as President on Tuesday, Clippers coach Doc Rivers opted for pragmatism instead of rage.
“The election didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” Rivers said. “I personally know Donald Trump. I’ve golfed with him. I know him. I don’t think there’s anyone who runs for president that wants to do bad. I really don’t. He won. Let’s give him a chance [and] see what he can do. That’s the only way anyway, now. Let’s go with that.”
Rivers’s message came hours after Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy blasted Trump, who lost California but carried Michigan.
“I don’t think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic and ethnic-centric,” Van Gundy said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “It’s embarrassing. I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Blazers coach Terry Stotts both told reporters Wednesday that they supported Van Gundy’s sentiment.
“All of a sudden, you’re faced with the reality that the man who is going to lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words,” Kerr told reporters before Golden State’s home win over Dallas on Wednesday. “It’s tough when you want there to be respect and dignity and there hasn’t been any, and then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife, who’ve basically been insulted by his comments, and they’re distraught.
“And you walk in and you see the faces of your players, most of them who have been insulted directly as minorities. It’s sort of shocking.”
Stotts told reporters before Portland’s loss to L.A. that he was “disappointed” with the election results and that he “wholeheartedly agreed” with Van Gundy. Trump lost Oregon.
As the Clippers and Blazers squared off, nonviolent protests were taking place at City Hall in Downtown LA, roughly two miles from the Staples Center. The 55-year-old Rivers, who was raised in Chicago and spent 13 years playing in the NBA, said that protesting is “the American way” and empathized with citizens who feel like the political system is broken.
“We have to figure out a way to educate our kids,” Rivers said. “The way we’ve done that has not worked. Clearly. If it keeps not working, there will be civil disobedience. You know that. We’ve got to figure it out.
“I do sympathize with some of the people that didn’t vote. They feel like their voice is not being heard. I grew up in an inner city. A lot of things have not changed. My parents voted every year. We have to figure out a way to improve our country.”
Final vote tallies suggested that roughly half of eligible voters did not cast ballots for Tuesday’s election, which saw Trump unexpectedly win the Electoral College while Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly took the popular vote. Analysts pointed to Clinton’s underperformance relative to President Barack Obama in several groups, including young voters and African-Americans, as chief drivers of Trump’s upset victory.
“Voting is really important,” Rivers said. “I think that lesson was learned here. … Go vote. You can change it all. You really can. I hope everyone hears that. Voting is powerful. It really is.”
Sounding very much like a coach trying to refocus his team after a loss, Rivers stated that Trump’s presidency should be judged on his actions once he is sworn in.
“Right now, we’ve got a president in office who is terrific and we’ve got another one coming in that’s done nothing yet,” he concluded. “You’ve got to give him a shot. He’s going to be president. That’s a guarantee.”