Woke NBA Coach: Actually, I Was Wrong About Hong Kong and Free Speech, and I Regret It

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Posted: Aug 03, 2020 10:25 AM
Woke NBA Coach: Actually, I Was Wrong About Hong Kong and Free Speech, and I Regret It

I've been quite harsh in my assessment of Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, an outspoken lefty whose hypocrisy vis-a-vis social justice and China has been glaring.  Late last year, Kerr cravenly dodged questions about Beijing's myriad abuses, more or less regurgitating the NBA's official 'see no evil' line.  He stooped to disgusting moral equivalencies as a means of deflecting the conversation away from the regime's egregious and systemic abuses, and onto America's flaws.  Condemning American policies was well within his comfort zone, and represented extremely safe terrain within the NBA's political zeitgeist; acknowledging the flagrant human rights abuses and international law violations of the Communist regime, however, was just too risky.  Think of the cash at stake.

The Houston Rockets' General Manager was ripped and ostracized for his simple public statement in support of democracy (much like the league, Nike scrambled to prostrate itself before Beijing with anti-virtue signaling, while peddling phony wokeness back home), as Kerr and company remained dutifully silent.  A pitiful display of greed and cowardice. But credit where it's due: The former Chicago bull is finally admitting he was wrong, and doing so with some specificity.  A qualified 'bravo' for this:

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." ...  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.

Kerr deserves kudos for admitting that he handled this matter "really poorly," which he certainly did. This is a step in the right direction and he should be commended for breaking with the herd and taking it. Nevertheless, it's not exactly a profile in courage to belatedly express support for someone's basic free speech rights, while still ducking the underlying issue. I wish the Washington Post journalist would have pressed him on his actual thoughts on the Hong Kong crackdown, the vanishing COVID-19 whistleblowers, and the ethnic cleansing and concentration camps in XinJiang.  In fact, it's pretty telling that the Post reporter did not even touch on the China issue in her piece on white NBA coaches' support for 'social justice.'  The San Francisco Chronicle writer whose work is quoted above couldn't help but note the omission: 

"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." 

Some in the media clearly do not want to confront this dramatic double standard either, which is why ESPN deserves credit for publishing of this tough story about the NBA's alleged direct complicity in additional abuses in China.  Perhaps Kerr has earned an incomplete grade on this matter, which is certainly an improvement upon his previous failures.  As the article points out, others continue to disgrace themselves on this front.  Mark Cuban has been unable to bring himself to utter one syllable about the Chinese Communist Party's various outrages, and worse, LeBron James wanted Morey punished for endangering the league's money-making capacity in China by speaking up in favor of Hong Kongers' liberty.  But here's 'Bron celebrating his own approach to leadership. Asterisks apply:


Meanwhile, anthem kneeling has become de rigueur in the NBA, with the rare non-kneelers evidently feeling compelled to explain their decision to stand for the Star Spangled Banner:


I'll leave you with star NFL quarterback Drew Brees once again trying to mop up his comments and various apologies related to the national anthem and the social justice moment.  Here, he attests that he will continue to "always stand for the flag," while affirming respect for those who choose to kneel, as well as support for the underlying cause of equality and opposing injustice: