Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich are two of the finest coaches in the NBA, if not the world. They also happen to be wise in terms of how they handle leadership matters and political discussions. When others are too timid or unsure of what to say in response to certain issues, Kerr and Popovich frequently are there to speak out. That’s a large part of what has made them so popular in the sports world and beyond. That’s also what makes their responses — or lack of responses — to the Daryl Morey/NBA China situation so disappointing.
When asked about the matter on Monday, rather than go to bat for his colleague Daryl Morey, who supported those protesting in Hong Kong, Kerr said he did not want to talk about the matter because he was not knowledgeable enough about the subject. He called it a “bizarre international story.”
“It’s a really bizarre international story, and a lot of us don’t know what to make of it. So it’s something I’m reading about just like everybody is, but I’m not going to comment further than that,” Kerr said, via Golden State Warriors reporter Logan Murdock.
“What I’ve found is that it’s easy to speak on issues that I’m passionate about and that I feel like I’m well-versed on, and I’ve found that it makes the most sense to stick to topics that fall in that category,” he added. “So I try to keep my comments to those things, and so it’s not difficult. It’s more I’m just trying to learn.”
On Tuesday, Popovich was asked about the matter and offered his support for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“He’s been a heck of a leader in that respect and very courageous,” Popovich told reporters at the Spurs-Miami Heat preseason game Tuesday, via USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. “Compared to what we’ve had to live through the last three years, there’s a big difference gap there leadership-wise and courage-wise.”
Keep in mind that the NBA tailored a statement to China in which they called Morey’s support of Hong Kong protesters “inappropriate” and said they were “extremely disappointed” in the Rockets GM. Popovich could have supported Morey — a position I would have expected him to take based on the Spurs coach’s past support of individual rights. But he stood with Silver instead. And Kerr wriggled off the hook by feigning ignorance.
And they choose not to support Daryl Morey standing for democracy and freedom of speech — values they have championed in the past — when they had the opportunity? That’s very disappointing.
The league is preserving its business relationship with China. So is ESPN. Kerr and Popovich are doing the same. How much different does this make them from the NFL and the NFL’s owners, who wanted anthem protests to go away because it was also bad for business?
There are no two ways about it; China is a communist country. The fact that some think twice about criticizing China due to the country’s political spin tactics and actions against dissenters prove these truths. Supporting democracy, freedom of speech, and other first amendment rights — as Morey did — is not a partisan issue; it’s American right down to our constitution.
The fact that Kerr, Popovich, and others feel so comfortable issuing criticism in America but fear doing so about China helps prove why our country, despite some of its faults, is great. And if you support Kaepernick for standing up and expressing his beliefs against what he felt was wrong, you similarly should back Morey for doing the same. That’s what makes it disappointing that these two leaders chose not to.
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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is finally addressing the Marcus Morris situation that left the team with something of a black eye this summer.
Speaking at media day on Monday, Popovich said the Spurs were “blindsided” by Morris reneging on his verbal agreement to sign with the team. Pop noted the team already had traded Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards to create cap space for Morris.
“Davis was a special player as we all know, and he was young and getting better and better,” Popovich continued. “So, yeah, we hated losing him.”
Morris agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with San Antonio this summer after they dealt the 26-year-old sharpshooter Bertans and restructured their free agent contract with DeMarre Carroll to accommodate him. Just days later though, Morris changed his mind and went on to sign a one-year, $15 million contract with the New York Knicks. As a result, the Spurs went out and got free agent forward Trey Lyles instead but had no way of getting Bertans back.
Gregg Popovich seems truly bummed out about Kyle Kuzma being cut by Team USA due to an ankle injury.
USA Basketball finalized the roster of 12 players that will be part of Team USA competing at the FIBA World Cup next weekend. Kuzma, who had been with USA Basketball in training camp and did not play in an exhibition game against Australia due to his ankle, did not make the cut.
In comments shared by MassLive.com’s John Karalis, Popovich expressed his “disappointment” over Kuzma being hurt.
Pop on Kuzma cont: …"So, hopefully, he’ll heal quickly. But, he was wonderful while he was here, and we do miss him." (2/2)
Los Angeles Lakers fans should be somewhat concerned too. While some wondered if the ankle injury was a cover for cutting Kuzma, Popovich saying the injury could hold Kuzma back for the start of the season signifies how real it is.
The 24-year-old was one of the few remaining players on the Lakers after their huge Anthony Davis trade during the summer. He says he is taking on a leadership role with the team, which is full of many new faces. Kuzma averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.
Popovich, who has coached the San Antonio Spurs since 1996, was actually quite the player back in the day for the United States Air Force Academy, where he attended college from 1966 to 1970. He served as the basketball team’s leading scorer and captain during his senior year and even earned an invitation to the US Olympic Basketball Team trials in 1972.
Gregg Popovich will be coaching against one of his own players on the international stage next week, and he is already planning ahead accordingly.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Popovich, who is the head coach of Team USA, revealed his funny plan for slowing down Australia’s Patty Mills when the two teams play each other in a pair of pre-FIBA World Cup exhibitions.
“I’m going to take him out to eat,” Pop joked, per 7NEWS Australia. “I’m going to fill him up and try to make him fat so he can’t move around so quickly.”
Mills, who has played for Popovich on the San Antonio Spurs since 2011, is known for his speed on the court, so the former Coach of the Year’s mindset is definitely in the right place. Popovich’s wisecrack is even funnier when you consider what he said about the guard’s weight several years ago.
“Let’s let them [Team USA] play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them,” Djordjevic said, via Eurohoops.com.
Popovich, who is the head coach for USA Basketball, was asked about Djordjevic’s comments and decided to stay above the matter.
Gregg Popovich acknowledged hearing it but predictably declined to counter the recent tout from his Serbian counterpart Sasa Djordevic that the Serbians can give Team USA real problems: "People will talk but it's usually not something I respond to."
Gregg Popovich seems pretty excited about Tim Duncan joining his staff as an assistant. The San Antonio Spurs coach is also very eager to joke about it.
At the first day of USA Basketball practice, Popovich spoke briefly about Duncan’s decision to join the staff, joking that the Spurs icon couldn’t coach at all and Popovich is simply paying him back for carrying him for nearly two decades.
USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich on his new Spurs assistant: “Tim Duncan doesn’t know a lick about coaching. I don’t even know why I hired him. He’s given me a paycheck for 19 years so I was kind of obliged to pay him back.” pic.twitter.com/LuveXVynob
Popovich made a similar joke when announcing the hire, and he’ll probably have more to come. The Spurs coach certainly seems very excited to have Duncan involved again, and the jokes are clearly coming from a place of deep affection.