After waking up to find out Donald Trump had revoked an invitation for the Golden State Warriors to attend a White House visit, Steve Kerr's first reaction was to laugh it off.
"Not surprised," said Kerr. "He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him."
Kerr hasn't been one to back down from political confrontations, even if the light on him is a little brighter than that on most NBA coaches. That's what happens when you coach the best team in the NBA, and he embraces the responsibility of being a spokesperson for the franchise. This is the guy who once said his team was "disgusted and disappointed" in the 2016 election results.
Presented with an opportunity to discuss Trump once again, Kerr stepped up. On Saturday afternoon, Kerr spoke to reporters about what it means to make a trip to the White House as a championship winner, and explained that in normal circumstances he would be happy to take his team to Washington D.C. Kerr just doesn't believe these are normal times, and he cited Trump's commentary on peaceful NFL protests as an example of the divide between the White House and his team:
I think in general the idea of going to the White House as part of a championship team is awesome. It's an incredible honor, you honor the office, you honor the institution. I can speak from personal experience, it doesn't matter, you set aside political differences. I've had the pleasure to meet with Reagan, George Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, I didn't necessarily agree with all of them, but it was an incredible honor to be in their presence.
There was a respect for the office, and also respect not only from us, but from the President himself, and that goes both ways. I think we would in normal times very easily be able to set aside political differences and go visit and have a great time, and be awesome. These are not ordinary times. Probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess since Vietnam but I was just a kid and I don't remember too much about Vietnam.
Because of the differences that exist in the country, the President made it really, really difficult for us to honor that institution. Our differences in terms of our team and organization's values, are so dramatically different, talking in terms of inclusion, civil discourse, dignity, it's hard for us every day seeing the things he's saying.
I thought yesterday, his comments about the NFL players are as bad as anything he's said to this point. That's awful, you're talking about young men who are peacefully protesting police brutality and racism, racial inequality. Peacefully protesting! Hallmarks of our country. Come on, it's just been very difficult for us to have to reconcile with that.
That thoughtful answer does not mean Kerr is above barbs and jokes at Trump. As reporters tried to get to the bottom of the team's mindset re: visiting Trump's White House, Kerr was asked if the events in Charlottesville had any impact on the decision-making process.
"No, because there are very fine people on both sides," snapped Kerr, alluding to Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacists and Nazis like the vermin they are.
If this all sounds a little bit personal to Kerr, maybe that's because it is. His own father and former president of the American University of Beirut, Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated when Steve was in college, which Kerr has admitted forced him to open his eyes in an attempt to understand the struggle of other people around the world. With the Trump administration striking fear in the hearts of many marginalized groups, Kerr's team opting out on visiting the White House was always the logical end point.
Following Kerr's comments, his star player doubled down on his own disinterest in attending a White House visit. Steph Curry told reporters Trump's lack of an invite only further solidified his stance on the matter.
Stephen Curry on Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/XsMF5Cw7Tg— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 23, 2017
"My stance is the same as it was yesterday, and kind of cemented even further about how things in our country have gone, especially with him representing us, and for me in a very damaging way," said Curry. "That's not what leaders do."