San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has become one of the league’s most vocal advocates on various social issues (Zereshk/Creative Commons).

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In these unprecedented times in which sports is constantly intersecting with politics and society, Dave Zirin of The Nation and the Edge of Sports podcast joins the show for an important conversation. Below, you can find some highlights from the interview:

6:31-7:18: “There is no stay in your lane at this point. All the rules are gone, and I think the very existence of Donald Trump should remove this idea, even as a debate. But the reason you’ve heard it step up in recent years is precisely because we have this Donald Trump[-led] racist backlash taking place in this country. And part of this racist backlash involves squelching voices of dissent. I would argue there’s been no cultural sphere quite like the world of sports in terms of being a center of anti-racist activism. It has been the voice, the clarion call, the moral conscience about racism in the United States over the last five years, dating back to, I would argue, the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.”

12:49-13:18: “This has always been part of his [LeBron James’] DNA. This has always been a part of the kind of legacy he wanted to leave. So while LeBron James, I would argue, has been strongly affected by the Black Lives Matter movement, by social media, he’s also somebody who came into the league with this idea of thinking to himself, ‘I want to be a global icon like [Muhammad] Ali. I don’t want to be defined just by my bank account but [by] the kind of political contribution that I can leave behind.’”

20:36-21:18: “He [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] has no power. He has no sway. He’s a meat puppet. Adam Silver is very different. He is the NBA commissioner. Players do respect him. Even if they know he’s on the other side and works for the owners, they think he has the best interests of the league and the best interests of them as players at heart. That’s a huge difference. That trust factor is so huge. And part of what that trust factor means is that Adam Silver can issue a joint statement with [executive director of the NBA Players Association] Michele Roberts about them working together to help players find a way to do social justice work, and what’s so interesting, and this was not a coincidence, is that they put that letter out to coincide with the opening week of the NFL season.”

22:32-23:30: “There’s another part of it that I think it is really important, and that’s that the NBA has spent several generations, I mean dating back to David Stern in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s…what the NBA has done is they’ve marketed the player, not the team. The players are the stars, not the teams. The NFL has done the opposite…Because they’ve done that, that also means that these NBA players have a tremendous amount of cultural capital, and people know them and want to hear from them.”

27:13-29:13: “Gregg Popovich has so much respect throughout the league, among both players and executives, that it’s afforded him just a tremendous amount of leeway in terms of what he can say. And also, he’s past the point where he needs the NBA. The NBA, in so many respects, needs Gregg Popovich more than he needs the NBA. And Steve Kerr has just presided over the three best seasons, I would argue, of any team in the modern NBA…And so, when they’re outspoken and when LeBron’s outspoken, one of the things it does is that it provides this amazing pretext for other players to speak out confidently, because when the people at the top of the profession speak out, it provides cover for everybody else.”

32:28-32:55: “First, there was an effort by the National Football League to hijack the message of these protests; now there’s an effort to just squelch it. And I think that people in the media have a role to play to explain these protests in a way that speaks to the names, like Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and Charleena Lyles. If you’re not saying those names, you’re not being honest about why people are protesting in the first place.”

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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod