SAN FRANCISCO – One day after being blasted with ridicule from the tongue of President Donald Trump, Warriors coach Steve Kerr responded Thursday with what amounted to a thoughtful sermon, carefully eviscerating the president’s general conduct.
Trump on Wednesday, citing Kerr’s non-response to a question about the sudden conflict between the NBA and China, described 54-year-old coach as a “scared little boy” afraid to answer.
Kerr heard about it shortly thereafter. Pondered it. Bottled his rage. Slept on it and then calmly offered an extended reply shortly before the Warriors-Timberwolves preseason game at Chase Center.
“Last night, I was thinking about my various visits to the White House,” Kerr began. “I’ve lived a privileged life. Met, I think, the last five presidents, prior to President Trump. The first one was in 1984, and Ronald Reagan was president. He invited my mom and me, six months after my dad was killed in a terrorist attack.
"President Reagan and Vice President Bush invited us into the Oval Office, and spent about a half hour with us, thanking us for my dad’s service; he was in education. Thanking us for my dad’s commitment to trying to share American values in the Middle East. Trying to promote peace in the Middle East.
“And all I could think of last night was the contrast of what has happened in 35 years.
“There was (then) no regard for whose side you were on, politically, political party, anything like that. It was just, ‘You are an American.’ The offense held such dignity and respect both from the people who were visiting and especially from the people who sat inside. It’s just sad that it’s come crashing down, and that we’re now living this.”
Without citing specifics, Kerr was referring to such things as the parade of indicted or convicted associates of the president. To Trump’s mocking of such citizens as the late Sen. John McCain. To the Trump family’s ceaseless claims that former President Barack Obama, a member of the Democratic party, was not born in the United States.
Mostly, though, Kerr was referring to the strident political polarization that has generated such tremendous unease within country.
“I realize the horse was out of the barn a long time ago,” he said. “But for me personally, this was my experience with, wow, has the office sunken low. My hope is that we can find a mature unifier, from either party, to sit in that chair and try to restore some dignity to the Oval Office again. And I think it will happen.”
Kerr has been outspoken about his desire to see all Americans voting in every election. It’s one of several projects in which he is involved. He has been particularly consistent in his advocacy for gun safety, as his father, Malcolm, was assassinated by terrorists in January 1984.
“Generally, my feeling is the things I’m going to comment on are the things I feel very comfortable speaking about, things I feel well-versed about,” he said. “I comment a lot about gun safety. It’s a cause that is very near and dear to my heart and very crucial for our future as a country. We face mass shootings literally every day. I’m involved with four or five different gun safety groups. That’s my pet cause.
"I’m going to comment on that. That’s my right. That’s why I love being an American. That’s why I love my country.”
Asked if in previous trips to China the issue of that country’s human rights abuses has been a topic of discussion, Kerr said it has not. He then paused for a few seconds before an addendum.
“Nor has our record of human rights abuses come up, either,” he said. “Things that our country needs to look at and resolve. That hasn’t come up, either. None of us are perfect. We all have different issues we need to get to. Saying that is my right as an American. It doesn’t mean I hate my country. It means I want to address (those things).”
“People in China didn’t ask me about people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall,” Kerr added. “I wasn’t asked that question. So, we can play this game all we want, go all over the map and, there’s this issue and that issue."
The coach also had a response for those who, like Trump, criticized him for not answering the initial question, on Monday, about the conflict between the NBA and China, which was initiated by a tweet from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who expressed support for the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
“The same people who were asking me to stick to sports are also asking me to expand my horizons,” Kerr said. “I guess that’s what I’m hearing.”
Kerr seemed to see the whimsy emanating from the White House. Trump goes on the attack and there’s always a target.
“I was the shiny object yesterday,” Kerr said. “There was another one today. There will be a new one tomorrow, and the circus will go on.”