Steve Kerr Dec 8, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr reacts during the second quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Please make no mistake: Steve Kerr has used his platform time and time again to evoke his words thoughtfully and emotionally.

Not everyone always has to agree with what the Golden State Warriors head coach says, but he’s one of the few coaches in North American sports to use his platform as a pulpit continuously. On Christmas Day, Steve Kerr, perhaps more known for discussing global politics and world affairs during his press conferences, expressed his frustration that Nikola Jokić was awarded 18 free throws during the Nuggets’ 120-114 victory over the Warriors.

“I have no problem with the officials themselves; all across the league, we have really good officials,” Kerr said, while not leaving any room for interpretation as he took aim at the NBA as a whole. “I have a problem with the way we are legislating defense out of the game. It’s what we’re doing in the NBA; the way we’re teaching officials — we’re just enabling players to BS their way to the foul line.”

Even though Kerr praises individual officials, he criticized the NBA’s officiating system for encouraging players to draw fouls through embellished or fabricated contact.

“If I were a fan, I wouldn’t have wanted to watch the second half of that game,” added an impassioned Kerr. “It was disgusting. It was just baiting refs into calls, but the refs have to make those calls because that’s how they’re taught. So, I have a real problem with the way we’ve legislated defense out of the game in this league. And the players are really smart in this league. For over the last decade or so, they’ve gotten smarter and smarter. We’ve enabled the players, and they’re taking full advantage. It’s a parade to the free-throw line. And it’s disgusting to watch.”

Kerr wasn’t critiquing Jokić, who has 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in Denver’s 6-point win. He was taking issue with the fact that the NBA has encouraged players like the league’s reigning NBA Finals MVP by rewarding them with a trip to the line anytime there’s a sniff of contact. And Jokić, arguably the best player in the league, is one of many to take advantage of.

While Kerr’s platform grants him a powerful voice, his Christmas Day sermon is likely to fall on deaf ears as the NBA continues to prioritize offensive spectacle over physical play.

[Anthony Slater]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.