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Gregg Popovich

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called Donald Trump "a soulless coward" Monday in response to the president's comments regarding four U.S. Special Forces soldiers who were killed Oct. 4 in Niger.

Trump addressed the deaths of the troops for the first time Monday -- 12 days after they lost their lives in an ambush by ISIS -- and why he hadn't done so sooner.

"President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls," Trump said -- falsely. "I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it."

Popovich, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, called Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation, to express his outrage:

"I've been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families, is so beyond the pale, I almost don't have the words."

At this point, Zirin writes, he thought Popovich had finished. But there was more:

"This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner -- and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers -- is as low as it gets."

Popovich, who served in the Air Force for five years after graduating, continued with a few more sentences, one of which included the words "pathological liar." Read the full comments in Zirin's story at The Nation.

In addition to his silence until Monday about the soldiers' death, Trump's decision to be on the golf course Saturday when the body of Army Sgt. La David Johnson arrived at Dover Air Force Base was fuel for his critics, which included veterans:

Although Popovich has been outspoken in his comments about Trump, the Holt family that owns the Spurs were big contributors to the Donald's campaign.

Popovich, who has won five NBA titles with San Antonio, will coach the U.S. Olympic basketball team in 2020. Other NBA coaches who have been critical of Trump include Steve Kerr of the Warriors and Stan Van Gundy of the Pistons.