As the NBA works to smooth over public relations with China, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr appeared to steer clear of questions about months of protests in Hong Kong against creeping Chinese authority over the city.
In comments on Monday, Kerr offered only brief dismissive assessments of the league’s apparent fallout with Chinese censors after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted comments in favor of the Hong Kong protests. According to Fox News, while Kerr has been a frequent critic in American social politics — having backed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling national anthem protests, and advocating for gun control — he chocked up the Chinese controversy to “a really bizarre international story.”
“A lot of us don’t know what to make of it,” Kerr said in a Monday press interview. “It’s something I’m reading about, just like everybody is but I’m not going to comment further than that.”
Steve Kerr no comments on the Morey/China/NBA situation. Says he’s been reading about it, doesn’t feel versed enough to comment. Full back and forth here. pic.twitter.com/HM1NuF46vG
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 8, 2019
“It is easy to speak on issues that I am passionate about and that I feel like I am well versed on” Kerr said when pressed for further comment.
Kerr said he had emailed his brother, a Chinese history professor, to better inform him on the ongoing disputes between protesters in Hong Kong and the authorities in the Chinese mainland.
The Hong Kong protests have been ongoing for over four months, with protesters opposing an extradition bill that would have cases for Hong Kong residents facing criminal trial to be adjudicated in mainland Chinese courts where the country’s Communist Party dominates. The protests have garnered recent media attention for complaints by protesters facing brutal policing tactics.
Police responding to riots in Hong Kong recently shot a protester with live ammunition, and the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has instituted a mask ban to discourage protesters who have worn masks to conceal their identity out of fear of police reprisal.
When asked if the NBA has issued directions to anyone in the league to steer clear of the Hong Kong controversy, Kerr said he had not received any league instructions but he said he had spoken with a few people on his team.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump — a frequent target of Kerr’s commentary on U.S. social and political issues — called the Warrior’s coach out for his dismissive remarks, according to Fox News.
“He was like a little boy, he was so scared…. He was shaking,” Trump said.
Trump added, “He didn’t know how to answer the question.”
He also took notice of another frequent critic in the NBA, San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich.
“I watched Popovich, sort of the same thing, but he didn’t look quite as scared, actually,” Trump said. “But they talk badly about the United States — but when (they) talk about China, they don’t want to say anything bad.”
The President added his criticism to a growing number of U.S. politicians who have criticized the NBA for apologetic remarks that attempted to put distance between the league and Morey’s comments that offended Chinese audiences.