Saying he was concerned for his family and his players, Texas men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart said the results of the presidential election felt like “a slap in the face” to him and some of the Longhorns.
Smart’s comments came after he discussed Texas’ 78-73 win on Friday at the Erwin Center. A coach with a wide array of interests didn’t hold back when asked his thoughts about Donald Trump.
“When someone who is elected who has a history of being hateful, of being racist, of being sexist, of saying certain things that are derogatory toward a certain group, it feels like a slap in the face,” Smart told the American-Statesman.
“That’s how some of those guys felt,” he added. “But you know what, we’re going to have to move forward. They’re not going to do another election. It is what it is and we have to respond the right way.”
LISTEN: Shaka Smart’s comments on the presidential election begin at approximately the 10:40 mark.
Just minutes prior, Smart spoke to all UT reporters in a similar vein as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who blasted Trump in a pre-game monologue Friday where he said, “We are Rome.”
“If we’re all about hating each other and thinking that everyone’s wrong and looking down on each other, we’re going to have a lot of problems,” Smart said. “What I’m trying to do with these guys is about what goes into success in life and obviously basketball. Unfortunately after that election, we’ve got some guys who were really, really hurt. To them, it was a message of, ‘Hey, you’re not as significant and important as other people in this country.’
“People may disagree, but that’s what they perceived,” he added. “Everyone has their own reality. We all have our own reality. Obviously for a lot of different people, their reality was different than maybe what our guys’ is or what mine is.”
Smart said that coaches have the ability to impact young people and those who follow the team, “so hopefully we can bring some more people together.”
Smart said he did talk with players earlier this fall about protests surrounding the National Anthem, specifically with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Smart had UT Chancellor Bill McRaven speak to the Longhorns after a midday shoot-around prior to the exhibition game against Angelo State.
“To me, the most troubling part of that was the reaction that a lot of people had to those guys,” Smart said. “I thought there was a lot of hatred that came out. There was a lot of racism that was disguised as patriotism going after those guys. I think that was really low level.”
Smart admitted he’s ultimately judged on wins and losses at Texas. But it’s important to treat the players as “whole people and have a feel for what they’re going through and what they’re thinking about.”
“I think we have a responsibility to communicate with our guys about the things that are going on in their life,” Smart said. “Unless your head is completely in the sand, this election is one of the things going on in all of our lives this week. Now, maybe some people are completely focused on something else. But I think there is a responsibility to talk about it, see how guys are feeling.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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