Cleveland (AFP) – Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is rarely shocked in his team’s fourth consecutive NBA Finals against Cleveland, but he was stunned by US President Donald Trump’s White House “sing-along.”
Trump, who last September revoked an invitation to the defending champion Warriors for a White House visit, held a “Celebrate America” ceremony on Tuesday after a similar disinviting of the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Kerr took a swipe at the gathering at a Warriors shootaround Wednesday, with a dig at Trump appearing to struggle with the words to “God Bless America.”
“I’m blown away by the irony with the Eagles being disinvited, when you read about their good deeds in their community,” Kerr said. “And instead we have military sing-alongs at the White House to show how patriotic we are even though we don’t know the words. It’s just incredible.”
Asked if sports now united or divided Americans, Kerr was quick to extol its virtues.
“Sports are always a uniter. It’s one of the beautiful parts of sports,” Kerr said.
“You see what the Eagles did for the city of Philadelphia and how happy everybody was. Sports brings people together.
“It just so happens that now we have an interesting time politically, to say the least, and we have a lot of athletes who aren’t afraid to speak out.”
Kerr said he sees patriotism in sports stars helping others through charity work and donations, citing more than $13 million in gifts by Warriors star forward Kevin Durant to youth programs in Texas, Maryland and California.
“What you’re seeing is the athletes are showing patriotism through their community service,” Kerr said. “The President is turning all of this into a political game and a ratings game and a blatant display of nationalism. But patriotism is helping your fellow citizens.”
“I’m really proud of people in this country who are recognizing what is happening instead of turning this into a political game. They are just trying to do good deeds.”
Kerr sees great changes in the world from his playing heyday alongside Michael Jordan with the six-time NBA champion Chicago Bulls.
“I just think the world changed,” Kerr said. “In the ’90s we were living in a blissfully ignorant state. It was pre-terrorism and pre-9/11 and pre-social media. Life was a lot simpler.”