Steve 'No Question Too Dangerous' Kerr Takes a Hard Pass on Talking About China
If Steve Kerr wants to give the China/NBA controversy a good leaving alone, I don’t blame him. Not only is it his right as an American with the liberty to express himself or not as he sees fit, it’s also good business. Trust me, if Barstool stood to lose millions if I decided to denounce an authoritarian regime that has a million Muslims in forced reeducation camps, censors speech, bulldozes churches, is leading the world in every type of pollution and isn’t exactly throwing Pride Parades for the LGBTQs, I’d keep my thoughts to myself. I mean, last month a nun spoke at my church and explained how she’s doing missionary work in China and they have to keep their faith a secret because converting people to Christianity is illegal there. So instead they run a shelter where they serve the poor and let people figure it out for themselves. But I have I mentioned it here? No. Because what if we get the chance to open Barstool China and sell a billion “SAFTB” shirts and I screw that up? A guy’s gotta eat.
But then, I’m a manchild who writes goofy blogs about football, wacky Florida people and deranged teachers. Unlike Steve Kerr, who has gone way out of his way to brand himself as the Fearless Man Who Fights for Social Justice, consequences be damned. Somehow all his willingness to speak truth to power at great personal risk to himself pretty much takes a back seat to selling NBA jerseys to the people who work in the factories that make them.
Remember this, from last year about the Great Social Justice (Golden State) Warrior?:
The coach of the NBA’s most powerful team will not stick to sports. Steve Kerr, whose Golden State Warriors are set to win their third NBA title in four years, has transformed from a master of unselfish offenses to an essential voice of reason in a world in which reason dies on cable news.
“I think he’s got a fire burning,” the Warriors general manager, Bob Myers, told the Guardian in the run-up to Friday night’s Game 4 of the NBA finals. “It smolders in there. It lives in there. It’s there right now. I don’t know what he’s thinking right now but he’s thinking about something that he’s either read or heard that he didn’t like that he wants to speak on if asked about it.”
Chances are, Kerr will be asked. Chances are, Kerr will answer. No topic seems off limits. No question is too dangerous. …
On the NFL’s new policy punishing players who silently protest against racial inequality during the national anthem: “It’s just typical of the NFL. They’re just playing to the fanbase. Basically just trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people. It’s idiotic.” …
Kerr stands out in a world where most sports coaches stay silent, either terrified of upsetting sponsors or fearful of upsetting team owners whose politics do not align with social change. His nearest NFL equivalent, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick (who has five championships), grunts rejections of political questions, tipping his ideological hand in laudatory letters to Trump. …
“There is no hidden truth to Steve,” Myers said. “There’s no hidden agenda to Steve, it’s ‘I will say what I feel and speak my mind and I’m going to try and live in that manner and try to back it up.’” …
Today’s NBA has a fearlessness about social justice that petrifies the NFL. While football owners are bullied by Trump, anguished about the potential of upsetting their fans or frightening away advertisers, basketball players don’t seem shackled. This is especially true of Kerr and the Warriors.
Whoops! So much for that. Now it’s, “China? What’s China? Nope. Never heard of it. You mean like the dinner plates?” I guess all that not-sticking-to-sports, fire-burning, no-topic-off-limits, no-question-too-dangerous, no-hidden-agenda fearlessness goes out the window when there’s 1.4 billion potential new NBA consumers who might be offended.
The bottom line is, I don’t care what Steve Kerr’s politics are. Or yours. Or even mine. The real truth is that we are all motivated by the same thing, which is money. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It was the whole motivation behind the NFL trying to reign in the Anthem protests. It was hurting TV ratings. And now that it’s essentially played out, viewership is higher than ever. That’s just smart business. Show me one person who took a huge financial hit by standing up for their beliefs. Even Colin Kaepernick has made a lot more in Nike dollars than he ever would have in the NFL. And will continue to.
Which is why the smartest public figure of our lifetimes was Michael Jordan. He knew better than to get dragged into divisive issues, famously saying “Republicans buy shoes too.” It would just be nice to have Mr. Outspoken Steve Kerr admit he has nothing to say this time because “oppressive Communist regimes buy shoes too.” But I’m not holding my breath.