The NBA-China dispute is still ongoing, and it’s taken an unusual turn; U.S. president Donald Trump criticizing American NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich for not speaking out more forcefully about this, contrasting that to their previous commentaries on him and his administration. What Kerr and Popovich have previously said can be found here and here respectively, and here’s what Trump said Wednesday in a press conference:
Here’s Trump mocking Steve Kerr pic.twitter.com/5uP67tBNxB
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 9, 2019
The full bit of Trump commenting on the NBA/Steve Kerr/Popovich – wow, never thought I'd write that.
"But I watched the way that like Kerr, Popovich and some of the others, were pandering to China and yet to our own country, they don’t — it’s like they don’t respect it." pic.twitter.com/17OnyFfNHS
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) October 9, 2019
This led to a response from Warriors’ player Steph Curry, who has previously been a target of Trump’s criticism:
Steph Curry on the Donald Trump tweet at Kerr and the evolving situation between the NBA and China pic.twitter.com/BTBG4Jt6JS
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 9, 2019
“I just heard about the Trump thing, I’ve got to welcome Steve to the club. First and foremost, that’s kind of par for the course there. We’ve obviously been really outspoken since I can remember in terms of an organization.”
While China’s actions here have received criticism from senators and congressional representatives from both parties, it appears that Trump’s focus is on criticizing the coaches who had previously criticized him. And it’s somewhat curious that he’s criticizing Kerr and Popovich for not having stronger responses without offering a stronger response of his own.
But the key takeaway here comes from Trump saying “they have to work out their own situation.” That makes it sound like the NBA won’t be getting much help here from the White House, so resolving this dispute appears to be mostly in their own corner. It will be interesting to see if and how ESPN covers this, though, given their memo to “avoid any political discussions about China and Hong Kong.”
[Aaron Rupar on Twitter]