It was a matter of when, not if, President Donald Trump would comment on the ongoing issues between China and the NBA.
That happened on Wednesday afternoon, when Trump criticized outspoken voices in the league, notably Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, for being too scared to speak out against China regarding the protests in Hong Kong. The protests have raged on for four months, starting with outrage over a bill that would have allowed extradition from the semi-autonomous Hong Kong to mainland China.
“I watch this guy Steve Kerr and he was like a little boy who was scared to be even answering the question,” Trump said during a press conference. “He couldn’t answer the question, he was shaking. (imitating Kerr) ‘Ohh, I don’t know, I don’t know.’ He didn’t know how to answer the question, and yet he’ll talk about the United States very badly.
“I watched Popovich, sort of the same thing, but he didn’t look quite as scared actually.”
This all started with a now deleted tweet by Rockets GM Daryl Morey, that read: “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.” The tweet was quickly followed by a response from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who said that the Morey does not speak for the Rockets, and that the team is not a political organization. Morey swiftly apologized.
China responded by aggressively to Morey’s comments, ending their affiliation with the Houston Rockets, and cancelling a number of NBA events slated to take place in China this week.
The NBA also released a series of statements, supporting Morey by saying they stand firmly on the side of free speech.
This led to Kerr and others being asked about the issue yesterday.
“Actually, I don’t,” Kerr said when asked if he had a comment. “It’s a really bizarre international story and a lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about, just like everybody is. But I’m not going to comment further than that.
“What I’ve found is that it’s easy to speak on issues that I’m passionate about and that I feel like I’m well-versed on,” Kerr said. “And I’ve found that it makes the most sense to stick to topics that fall in that category. So, I try to keep my comments to those things. So, it’s not difficult. It’s more … that I’m trying to learn.”
Kerr’s next availability is before Thursday’s preseason game. Stephen Curry, who has been criticized by Trump in the past, had this to say after seeing the video.
“Just heard about the Trump thing. Gotta welcome Steve to the club.”
Here’s Trump mocking Steve Kerr pic.twitter.com/5uP67tBNxB
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 9, 2019