With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s recent protest in mind, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he believes similar protests will take place in the NBA this upcoming season, and will “absolutely talk to his players as a team” on how they plan to address the playing of the national anthem before games.
Kaepernick has either chosen not to stand or taken a knee during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner before NFL games this season in protest against what he views as injustices against blacks in America. The Warriors, who have a predominantly black roster, play about 40 minutes from the 49ers’ home stadium in Santa Clara, California. And before the Warriors’ preseason opener on Oct. 1 against the Toronto Raptors in Vancouver, Canada, Kerr expects to be on the same page with his star-studded team on how players will react.
“We will absolutely talk about it as a team before our first game … ,” Kerr said during pre-training camp media availability at the Warriors’ training facility in Oakland, California, on Wednesday. “I talked to some of the guys, and [they asked], ‘What does it mean to you?’ I’ve kind of given them my opinion. We’ve shared thoughts. That’s kind of the way we do things around here.
“We like to talk about stuff, basketball or not. It’s probably one of the best things that’s come out of the Kaepernick issue is that people are talking about it. It’s a good thing.”
Kerr said Americans should be “disgusted” by the latest fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black man, at the hands of police regardless of their feelings toward Kaepernick’s stance.
Kerr specifically mentioned Crutcher, who can be seen on videotape being shot to death by a police officer last Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man, was also killed by local police officers in his apartment complex parking lot in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday.
“No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, I would hope that every American is disgusted with what is going on around the country, with what happened in Tulsa two days ago, Terence Crutcher,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, on the Kaepernick stuff, you better be disgusted about things that are happening. And so, I understand people who are offended by his stance. Maybe they have a military family member who is offended. Maybe they lost somebody in a war and the flag and the anthem means a lot more to them than someone else.
“But then you flip it around, what about a nonviolent protest? This is America. This is what our country is about. It’s a nonviolent protest. It’s what it should be about. I think Colin has really clarified his message over the last couple of weeks. I think that something similar will happen in the NBA. Nobody has to be right. Nobody has to be wrong. I would hope everyone would respect each other’s point of view. There are valid points of view on both sides.”
Kerr added: “Unarmed black people are being killed indiscriminately around the country. And that’s what happened two days ago. That’s the message. That’s what matters. The other stuff you can talk about all day. Nobody is right. Nobody is wrong.
“But that matters. Everyone should be trying to do something, whatever is in their power, to help in that regard.”
Several Warriors players have shared their views on Kaepernick’s stance. Warriors guard Stephen Curry, a two-time NBA MVP, recently told CNBC that he supported Kaepernick’s decision. Forward Kevin Durant told reporters last week in Austin, Texas, that he was “behind anyone who stands up for what they believe in.”
Kerr plans to support his team’s players in their views as long as their message on injustice is “clear.”
“Our guys have been asked a lot about it and they’ve done a great job responding,” Kerr said. “It’s a tricky topic. Not the Kaepernick situation, but social activism in general. It has to come from the heart. There are a lot of fans out there that say, ‘Stick to sports. We’re trying to get away from this by watching your team play.’
“I understand that. On the other hand, these guys have a voice. In my mind, as long as the message is clear, I’m all for people speaking out against injustice no matter what form that takes. If it’s nonviolent and leads to conversation, then I think that’s beautiful.”
Kerr, 50, made a passionate plea for more gun control last June onSan Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami’s TK Show podcast. The former NBA player also had words for Congress in the wake of the mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub for not expanding background checks on all gun sales. When Kerr was 18, his 52-year-old father, Malcolm, was murdered in Beirut by terrorists while he served as president of the American University of Beirut after being shot in the back of the head twice by gunmen.
“Everybody has their own thoughts, their own cause of what they think is important,” Kerr said. “When you’re in the limelight, you do have to think, ‘Do I want to say something? Am I right person to say this?’ I felt like I was the right person to talk about gun control because of what happened to my dad.
“I felt strongly about it. I talked about it. I’m sure there was some negative reaction. Again, it’s discourse that’s important.”