Date: August 1st, 2020 2:21 PM
Still doesn’t criticize China though
Steve Kerr says he regrets past China comments, should have backed Daryl Morey
Photo: Harry How / Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors complains for a foul in the first half against the LA Clippers during Game Two of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 18, 2019 in Los Angeles. Kerr says he regrets his previous dodging of questions related to China, and should have more forcefully defended Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's right to free speech during a recent interview with the Washington Post.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says he regrets his previous dodging of questions related to China, and should have more forcefully defended Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's right to free speech.
Kerr recently spoke to the Washington Post's Candace Buckner for an article on white NBA coaches and social justice. Buckner's article makes no mention of the league's spat with China — a notable omission given Kerr's role in the incident and recent high-profile feuds centered around charges of hypocrisy that the league goes all-in against police brutality and systemic racism at home while turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in China due to the league's financial interests.
Prior to the article's publication, Buckner tweeted a transcript of part of her conversation with Kerr that did not make it into the article. The transcript shows that shows that Kerr voluntarily steered the conversation towards China — a somewhat surprising move given the general reticence of people around the league when it comes to discussing the topic. After Buckner asked if speaking out about political issues can be "burdensome," Kerr expressed remorse over not backing Morey, who unleashed a firestorm after tweeting support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
"I handled it really poorly," Kerr said. "I was frankly sort of tongue tied. I'm sitting there trying to figure out what I'm supposed to say to make sure I don't put the league in jeopardy but also trying to find the right balance and I realize it was probably the one time over the years when I haven't just spoken my heart and I sort of got caught in this political hail storm. It was very uncomfortable because it wasn't a topic I was very comfortable with and the circumstances were really strange.
"I've learned of the last four years since I've been... [outspoken] the questions aren't always easy. If you follow your gut and your heart, you generally just speak your truth and y0u're going to feel good about it afterwards. That's the one episode where I walked away shaking my head saying, 'What the hell was that?'"
Kerr then was asked what he would do differently if given the chance.
"Well I would first of all back up Daryl," he said. "I would just say Daryl, has a right, as an American, to free speech. He can say anything he wants and we should support him in that and that's the main message. And then if you want to get into the depths of a really complex issue (chuckles) then you can have a conversation."
The Warriors coach did not directly weigh in on the suppression of protests in Hong Kong, the oppression of Uighur Muslims and other oppression by the Chinese government, but his support for Morey's right to free speech and willingness to have a "conversation" on the topic is a far cry from what others in the NBA have said about Morey's tweet and China.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James drew outrage after stating that Morey "wasn't educated on the situation at hand" and those around the NBA should "be careful what we tweet and say and we do."
As recently as a week ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban declined to weigh in on oppression of Uighur Muslims in China during a Twitter fight with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Cuban referred to human rights abuses as "domestic policies," tweeting, "I have never gotten involved in the domestic policies of ANY foreign country. We have too much to do here."