San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had a blunt assessment for President Donald Trump’s crisis management after Trump criticized the responses of Popovich and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr to the ongoing situation involving the NBA and China.
Popovich contrasted Trump with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and said the president “comes off as pretty feckless, impotent and cowardly by comparison,” per the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald:
Gregg Popovich, on what it was like to hear his name come out of the President's mouth last week: pic.twitter.com/3t601mFRVt
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) October 13, 2019
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey accidentally sparked an international incident when he expressed support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. The Rockets and NBA have attempted to mitigate the fallout.
Silver released a statement in which he said he respects the significance and delicacy of any discussion centered on Hong Kong but added the league won’t punish players or team officials for expressing their opinions:
It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.
However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.
Asked for his thoughts, Kerr told reporters he didn’t feel comfortable expressing an opinion since he wasn’t fully aware of the history and factors at play:
Steve Kerr no comments on the Morey/China/NBA situation. Says he’s been reading about it, doesn’t feel versed enough to comment. Full back and forth here. pic.twitter.com/HM1NuF46vG
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 8, 2019
Popovich called Silver “a heck of a leader” for how he has guided the NBA through the difficult matter:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he supports the comments from NBA commish Adam Silver surrounding the controversy with the league and China. pic.twitter.com/kKadrF6Xwp
— Will Manso (@WillMansoWPLG) October 8, 2019
Trump referenced both coaches during a press event at the White House on Wednesday. He said Kerr “was like a little boy” when giving his statement. The president also said Kerr and Popovich “talk badly about the United States but when it talks about China they don’t want to say anything bad.”
President Trump on NBA and China: "I thought it was pretty sad actually." pic.twitter.com/Y7AhigEfWe
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 9, 2019
Trump also called out Kerr on Twitter:
So funny to watch Steve Kerr grovel and pander when asked a simple question about China. He chocked, and looks weak and pathetic. Don’t want him at the White House!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2019
Warriors star Stephen Curry drew Trump’s ire in September 2017 when he said he didn’t want to visit the White House to celebrate the team’s 2016-17 NBA title.
Curry quipped he’d have to “welcome Steve to the club” in reference to Trump’s recent comments.