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Steve Kerr on Daryl Morey-China-Hong Kong situation: ‘I handled it really poorly’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr in China

SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 8: Head Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors speaks to the media after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the 2017 Global Games - China on October 8, 2017 at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is incredibly outspoken on political issues. He even once said, “If you look at the history of the world, the biggest problems come when people don’t speak. So, I think it’s important to express your views.”

But when controversy erupted over Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting support for Hong Kong protesters (who trying to maintain and expand their freedoms) and the NBA’s relationship with China, Kerr was quiet.

Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

I’m glad Kerr admitted his remorse.

At very minimum, Morey deserved stronger support for exercising his freedom of speech. That should have been easy to provide. Yet, even the NBA itself needed multiple attempts to get that right. So many around the league blew that easiest test.

Kerr is right: The NBA is far from unique as an American company operating in China. But the NBA looked ill-prepared for this inevitable dispute. And more than just tolerating authoritarianism in China, the NBA has reportedly even been complicit in abuses.

The money can be blinding.

And then there is the actual substance of Morey’s tweet – supporting the Hong Kong protesters. Kerr still didn’t directly address that.

Nor does he have to. Kerr was reasonable when he said he needn’t address every issue around the world.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and team owners should do more to explain the league’s business interests on China. That responsibility shouldn’t fall onto coaches and players just because they’re in front of the media more often.

But it stood out that Kerr, for all his political outspokenness, kept quiet in a situation where the NBA – which includes Kerr – had significant revenue on the line.

It was a difficult situation. It wasn’t just Kerr’s money at stake. Everyone involved with the league had a vested interest in keeping China happy. Everyone involved with the league has a vested interest in keeping China happy.

Even now, Kerr still doesn’t say anything nearly as divisive as Morey tweeted.

While I appreciate Kerr admitting he mishandled the situation, it’s not as if he has suddenly become a leader on the human-rights issues in China. He’s just not as quiet as he initially was.