Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, rarely reticent to express his political opinions about social justice and a vociferous critic of President Trump, suddenly went silent when he was asked about the NBA smashing down Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey after Morey supported Hong Kong’s protests against China’s new extradition bill. When he was asked about the situation, instead of coming boldly forth to defend citizens battling a Communist regime, Kerr responded, “It’s a really bizarre international story, and a lot of us don’t know what to make of it. So it’s something I’m reading about just like everybody is, but I’m not going to comment further than that.”
Kerr has hardly been silent before; as Sports Illustrated reported, in June 2018, he slammed President Trump for uninviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House after they won the Super Bowl, instead hosting a “celebration of America.” Kerr stated:
What you’re seeing is, the athletes, are showing patriotism through their community service. The President is turning all of this stuff into a political game. And a ratings game. And it’s a blatant display of nationalism. Patriotism is helping your fellow citizen, whether it’s what KD’s doing or what we did when we visited Washington. What the Lynx are doing today. That’s what patriotism is about. I’m blown away by the irony of the Eagles being disinvited. When you read about their good deeds in their communities. Malcolm Jenkins addressing lawmakers, trying to get to the root of the issues we have. Instead we have these military sing-alongs at the White House to show how patriotic we are, even though we don’t know the words. It’s just incredible.
In January 2019, when the government was in the midst of a shutdown, Kerr referenced a 2014 tweet from Trump in which Trump wrote about former President Barack Obama, “It’s almost like the United States has not President -[sic] we are a rudderless ship heading for a major disaster. Good luck everyone!” Kerr retweeted Trump, then tweeted, “Common ground!”
In July 2019, after Trump tweeted at four Democratic congresswomen that they should “go back” to their countries although three of them were born in the U.S., Kerr tweeted that Trump was a “racist,” writing, “Come on members of Congress, call out the president for his racist tweets this morning. Show some leadership. It’s the job you were elected to do.”
Come on members of Congress, call out the president for his racist tweets this morning. Show some leadership. It’s the job you were elected to do.
— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) July 15, 2019
As The Daily Wire reported, Morey had tweeted out a graphic on Friday evening that stated: “Fight For Freedom Stand With Hong Kong.” That prompted Chinese officials to denounce the tweet; some Chinese companies suspended doing business with the Rockets. As Logan Murdock of NBC News noted, “Not only is the country hosting exhibition games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets this week, but the league has a lucrative business relationship with the Communist country. Tencent — a Chinese news company that signed a $1.5 billion streaming deal with the league in July — announced it would suspend all Rockets-related programming …”
On Sunday, NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass released the following statement:
We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.
Morey issued another tweet to apologize, writing, “I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China … I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.’’
On Monday, Kerr commented on the China-NBA story, asserting:
It’s a really bizarre international story, and a lot of us don’t know what to make of it. So it’s something I’m reading about just like everybody is, but I’m not going to comment further than that. What I’ve found is that it’s easy to speak on issues that I’m passionate about and that I feel like I’m well-versed on, and I’ve found that it makes the most sense to stick to topics that fall in that category. So I try to keep my comments to those things, and so it’s not difficult. It’s more I’m just trying to learn. My brother-in-law is actually a Chinese history professor and I emailed him today to tell me what I should be learning about all this and what’s happening and so I’m trying to learn just like everybody else.
Steve Kerr's full statement on the NBA/China controversy pic.twitter.com/7D5QTCtQe9
— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) October 8, 2019