SAN FRANCISCO – Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose response to the NBA’s rift with China was criticized by U.S. President Donald Trump, Thursday bemoaned the loss of dignity in the White House.
“I was just the shiny object,” Kerr said before the Warriors’ preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves when asked if he’d taken Trump’s criticism to heart.
“There was another one today, and there will be another one tomorrow, and the circus will go on.”
Trump on Wednesday said he thought Kerr — a longtime critic of the president — “looked like a little boy” when he declined to comment on the NBA’s public relations crisis in China — where authorities were angered by a tweet from Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey offering support to pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.
Kerr had said he preferred to withhold comment until he knew more about the matter, prompting a mocking reference from Trump.
“He couldn’t even answer the question, he was shaking, ‘Ohhhhh, I don’t know . . . I don’t know,’ ” Trump said.
Kerr said he wasn’t at all surprised by Trump’s comments, going on to contrast them with his interactions with five prior U.S. presidents, including a visit to Ronald Reagan’s White House after Kerr’s father was killed in Lebanon in 1984 when he was the president at the American University of Beirut.
“Wow, has the office sunken low,” Kerr said of his reaction to Trump’s remarks, saying he would like to see a “mature unifier from either party to sit in that chair and try to restore some dignity to the Oval Office again.”
Tension between the NBA and China — where the league enjoys a huge following — promises to be a continuing theme as the upcoming season gets underway.