Steve Kerr responds to backlash for his silence on China: 'I choose not to be a sound bite'
Prior to his team's preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday night, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters it was "strange" getting called out by President Donald Trump, and remained quiet on issues relating to China, Hong Kong, free speech and human rights.
"It was really surprising," Kerr said. "But mainly just because it was me. Then you stop and you think, this is just every day. This is just another day. I was the shiny object yesterday. There was another one today; there will be a new one tomorrow. And the circus will go on. It's just strange, but it happened."
Earlier in the week, President Trump called Kerr a "little boy" for not speaking out on human rights abuses in China the same way he speaks out on other issues. Kerr has been outspoken on issues such as gun control, immigration, and police brutality.
“I watched this guy Steve Kerr and he was like a little boy, he was so scared to be even answering the question,” Trump said. “He was shaking, 'Oh, I don't know' ... he didn't know how to answer the question, and yet he'll talk about the United States very badly."
Kerr joked that he considered riding into the arena on a tricycle and with a propeller-cap to mock Trump's "little boy" comment, and continued to say that he doesn't feel "comfortable" commenting on China.
"The same people who are asking me to stick to sports are also asking me to expand my horizons," he said. "I guess that's what I'm hearing. Again, I will speak on the things I'm comfortable with. I will do things I believe are helpful for my country. I love my country, despite what President Trump said yesterday."
In addition to refusing to comment on China, Kerr also declined to comment on whether Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets who ignited the entire controversy with a tweet expressing support for protests in Hong Kong, should be fired for expressing that opinion.
"I appreciate the fact that you have to ask me that question," Kerr said in response to the reporter who asked about Morey. "I would hope that you appreciate my right to not answer that question because all it does is create a headline and a sound bite, and I choose not to be a sound bite tonight. Probably too late for that tonight. I choose not to be that sound bite."
When asked if he's ever been questioned about human rights abuses during his previous trips to China, Kerr said he hasn't and pivoted to a familiar issue — gun control.
"It has not come up in terms of people asking about it, people discussing it," he said. "Nor has our record of human rights abuses come up, either. 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 have to get to. Saying that is my right as an American. It doesn't mean that I hate my country. It means I want to address the issue. But people in China didn't ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall. I wasn't asked that question."