Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wrote a powerful essay for Sports Illustrated on Sunday expressing his pain and disappointment over the clash between President Donald Trump and protesting athletes.
Trump called for NFL owners to fire the “sons of bitches” who dared silently protest during the national anthem. The president’s comments began Friday only hours after Warriors star Stephen Curry made it clear that he would skip the traditional White House visit for the NBA’s reigning champions.
Then, on Saturday, Trump tweeted that he was rescinding any invitation for the Warriors to come to Washington.
Even before the president’s tweet, Kerr wrote, the Warriors had discussed as a team whether they could have a “serious, poignant discussion” with the president.
“The truth is we all struggled with the idea of spending time with a man who has offended us with his words and actions time and again,” Kerr wrote. “But I can tell you one thing: it wouldn’t have been for the traditional ceremony, to shake hands and smile for cameras.”
Either way, that won’t happen now.
Trump’s divisive comments about the protesting players “just crushed me,” Kerr wrote. He pointed out that plenty of American military members would say the right to free speech is “exactly what they fight for.”
“Just think about what those players are protesting,” he wrote. “They’re protesting excessive police violence and racial inequality. Those are really good things to fight against. And they’re doing it in a nonviolent way.”
The NFL’s “Take The Knee” protest began last year when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem in a game against the San Diego Chargers.
Players have said the silent protest is not meant to insult the American flag or the anthem, but to raise awareness and spark discussion about systemic racial injustices in the U.S. Many people support what the athletes are doing, but other Americans feel their act can only be viewed as disrespectful.
″Respectfully, Mr. Trump, the point is this: You’re the president,” Kerr wrote. “You represent all of us. Don’t divide us. Bring us together.”