When called upon to comment on an ongoing controversy between the NBA and Chinese censors, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr instead pointed to problems in the United States with people owning AR-15s.
When asked if the NBA’s business interests in China are at odds with China’s controversial human rights record, Kerr said the issue has not come up, before pointing to “our record of human rights abuses.” A video shared by KNBR sports radio station shows Kerr’s continued deflections from the Chinese controversy during a Thursday press exchange.
“None of us are perfect and we all have different issues that we have to get to,” Kerr said. “And saying that is my right as an American. It doesn’t mean that I hate my country, it means I want to address things, right, but people in China didn’t ask me about people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.”
Steve Kerr on if he’s ever been asked about human rights during his previous trips to China:
“No. Nor has (America’s) record of human rights abuses come up either… People in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.” pic.twitter.com/56mNC7LmID
— Sam Hustis (@SamHustis) October 11, 2019
Prior to his comments deflecting to U.S. gun violence, Kerr appeared to avoid questions over an ongoing public relations incident after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
Morey’s comments appeared to show support for Hong Kong protesters who have for months demonstrated against expanding influence from the Chinese communist mainland. Morey deleted his tweet and the NBA apologized for the comments, which appeared to offend Chinese fans of the league.
Despite the efforts to smooth over the offending remarks, Chinese advertisers and broadcasters have drawn distance from the Rockets and showed signs of a falling out between the basketball league and the good graces of Chinese censors.
When asked if Thursday if Morey should be fired over the comments Kerr said he can “appreciate” the media’s need to ask the question and hopes reporters will also “appreciate my right to not answer that question.”
“All it does is create a headline and a soundbite,” Kerr said.
Kerr’s latest comments followed previous deflecting remarks earlier in the week. In a Monday press engagement, Kerr said he didn’t know what to make of the controversy with China but said he had spoken with his brother, a professor on Chinese history, to help him understand.
“A lot of us don’t know what to make of it,” Kerr said in the press interview. “It’s something I’m reading about, just like everybody is but I’m not going to comment further than that.”
Kerr has previously been more outspoken about U.S. political issues, having supported NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest of the national anthem during football games.
President Donald Trump, another target of Kerr’s past political messaging, criticized the basketball coach on Wednesday, and said, “He was like a little boy” who was scared and “didn’t know how to answer the question.”
Other U.S. politicians have also criticized the NBA for their apologetic remarks and soft stance towards China throughout the controversy.