Steve Kerr, Chris Long challenge white star athletes to disavow racism


Steve Kerr, Chris Long challenge white star athletes to disavow racism

The war on injustice and oppression has been waged by millions over centuries, and the only aspect to undergo substantive change is the death toll.

Every small advance, however, has come with a racially collaborative effort, which is proof that folks of different hues can share the same goal. As long as this is true, there is reason for hope.

Though it’s much too soon to conclude the killing of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer is a tipping point in America, it’s absolutely evident that more people across the human paint spectrum are willing to confront our most enduring sin.

Which is why it is encouraging to hear white voices growing in numbers and getting louder. Two of the most visible, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and former NFL star Chris Long, are calling for others to join them.

“We have to decide, as white people, that enough is enough,” Kerr said on Long’s “Green Light” podcast.

“We need athletes to talk about this stuff,” Long said. “We need white voices. We need people to stand together right now and be on the same team . . . and just call it for what it is. In sports, for whatever reason, there aren’t a ton of white athletes who feel comfortable doing that.”

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Long pointed out that one of his former teammates, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, was among the few to issue a statement last week, after seeing video of Floyd’s death, decrying the “institutional racism” that people of color live with on a daily basis.

That, however, is only a start.

“Who’s going to be the first white franchise quarterback, a big name in our sport, that can move mountains,” Long said, “to come out and talk about this stuff?”

That, folks, is a call to the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, all marquee names with Super Bowl bona fides.

[RELATED: Curry, Kerr outraged by Floyd's death]

Considering the crisis at hand, they’re all fair game. As are the big-name college football coaches, who are revered in some parts of the country and have parlayed African-American talent into generational wealth.

“For somebody who wants to be involved, admitting there is racism or that you might have a leg up, doesn’t make you a bad person,” Long said. “It doesn’t mean you haven’t worked hard. It just means that it’s harder for somebody else. Let’s even the playing field.”

Kerr and Long know this is a big ask. They also realize leadership is one of the requirements of making America a better place. Doesn't leadership begin with those of power and influence?

Moreover, how can one be described as a leader without getting involved?

“I’ve got friends who are in the thick of it, in the inner city, who are really fighting hard for equality and for the lives of people are impoverished,” Kerr said. “I’ve learned from them and I tend to call them and ask: ‘What can I do?’”

The first step, Kerr concedes, is addressing the issue.

“When I think of it in terms of the big picture in our country, in our nation’s history, the real problem is that we’ve never really reconciled our sins from the past,” Kerr said. “We haven’t really.”

“The impact (of slavery), the generational impact, on families, the only way for us to reconcile it is to address them.”

Aware that some contend slavery, because it was abolished 157 years ago, is something to be ignored or forgotten, Long astutely pointed out the fallacy of that, saying it has been replaced by various iterations, some of which exist in 2020.

Most notably, that is, in the all-too-antagonistic relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans.

Kerr and Long are not alone. Others, Gregg Popovich and Megan Rapinoe to name two, have long been willing to address inequality. Other sports figures, such as Zach and Julie Ertz, along with J.J. Watt, have spoken up in recent days.

Still, many more sports “heroes” should search themselves for the courage to acknowledge injustice, speak on it and take positive action.

“Hopefully, we can, inch by inch, claw our way to a place that we can be comprehensively proud of the country we live in,” Long said. “Because I am proud to be an American.

“But there’s a big asterisk next to it.”

[RELATED: Kerr did 'soul-searching' after Floyd's death]

That asterisk has become massive in recent years and downright explosive in recent days. There literally is war in the streets, and war always means suffering.

Until there is appreciably greater cooperation from the privileged top of American society, most of which remains silent, the body count will rise, with martyrs recognized or not, continuing to stack up.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Warriors' Steph Curry leading by example in racial, social justice push

Warriors' Steph Curry leading by example in racial, social justice push

Programming Note: “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” airs Monday at 5 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

If you’ve followed the arc of Stephen Curry’s adult life, you know his priorities beyond basketball include faith, being a model husband and father, aiding the unprivileged, funding worthy causes and speaking up for justice and equality.

The optics are good. What’s more impressive are the indications that this is how he lives.

What you might not know is that the Warriors superstar -- the most beloved and admired athlete in the Bay Area -- has been energized by the tumultuous events this year that generated global outrage and sparked a movement in hopes of humanizing all Americans.

“Everybody has a role in this,” Curry said during a panel discussion conducted by NBC Sports during the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

“You think about the protests, the participation on every different side of the conversation, to the impact of social media, people just posting and reposting and sharing information,” Curry added. “That’s important.

“You've got people in the streets that have been -- you’ve got real-life activists that do this for a living. They do this and have been doing it for years. And now we just need to support them. Send resources. Volunteer your time. Put them on a pedestal, because we don't know all the answers.”

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

When teammate Juan Anderson-Toscano organized a rally in Oakland last month, Curry and his wife, Ayesha, were there, walking the streets with hundreds of others, demonstrating collective indignation at the tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor -- all unarmed Black Americans slain this year in the name of law enforcement.

“(Sports figures) have the ability to kind of ignite those kinds of efforts and again be able to put people in position to really make change,” Curry said. “One of our main goals is knowing the platform we have, knowing what sports has given us in our lives, the people. If you say anything, it's going to be a headline. So why not use it.”

Curry during the tournament wore shoes depicting Taylor’s name and likeness. While prize money goes to a number of charities, including the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI.org), Curry will donate his shoes to Black Lives Matter to be auctioned, with proceeds earmarked for BLM.

Count Curry among the growing number of sports figures, aware that some Americans are disillusioned with elections, raising their voices on the subject of voting. On the visor he wore during the final round Sunday was a button urging people to vote.

Former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, an Oakland native 2007 National League MVP, joined Charles Barkley, Ozzie Smith and Curry on the panel. When Rollins emphasized the importance of voting in local elections, Curry was quick to echo the sentiments.

“That's where the real change happens,” Curry said, expressing his dismay over voter suppression tactics in some regions.

“And that's something that is so ... the sense of urgency in that to me is so real, because we'll go out in November and then we'll be coming up in the next cycle, and we need to have our voices heard at the polls to again hold people in positions of authority and power accountable for looking out for everybody, equally.”

Though Curry’s celebrity status provides a measure of insulation from some of the racial animosity often directed by law enforcement and other sectors of society, he realizes it’s not a bullet-proof shield. Nor is he allowed the comfort of believing his children, two daughters and a son, will be immune from profiling.

“As a young father, with a seven-year-old and a five-year-old, the questions that they're asking, because they're being shown these images, you can't really -- you can't and you shouldn't, really -- shield them from this,” Curry said. “And the way that we go about as parents talking to them, being honest and truthful about how society has been for 400 plus years and all that we are trying to do collectively to take this moment, turn it into a movement and keep applying pressure to change our experience, I think it's rewarding.

“But knowing that you might not see the results right away, we have to continue to double down and double down and keep people accountable in all walks of life, all industries, all forms of leadership, the judicial system, all those types of things. And hopefully for my kids’ generation, their kids, we will see change.”

[RELATED: Curry calls on people to get uncomfortable to enact change]

Curry is, by nature, an optimist. It’s the outlook he had to have growing up with ears burning from the words and whispers of those who doubted his abilities. It’s easier for him to remain optimistic knowing his adult life is bringing so many things others never thought he’d have.

Witnessing the demographics of the protests, there is good reason to feel positive.

Given the realization that his voice carries beyond the basketball court, there is good reason to believe Curry will remain engaged in the fight to make America a better nation.

2020 NBA mock draft 11.0: Projecting Warriors, Kings' first-round picks

2020 NBA mock draft 11.0: Projecting Warriors, Kings' first-round picks

It’s mock draft time!

The NBA restart  is almost upon us, which means soon we’ll have final standings by mid-August, followed by a draft lottery order.  
Teams have been working on draft strategies and doing the best they can to evaluate talent without getting their hands on players in the flesh. Working around the coronavirus pandemic is making this year the strangest draft seasons in NBA history. 

To add a more realistic spin to the mock, we’ve turned to the draft simulator on Tankathon.com to randomize the lottery order. Here is a look at NBC Sports California’s 2020 Mock Draft 11.0. Wizards, you’re on the clock.

View NBC Sports Bay Area's Mock Draft 11.0 here