Steve Kerr

Kerr again wades into political pond with Team USA

NBC Universal, Inc.

A faction of self-described American patriots is discussing a boycott of the Paris Olympics this summer because they’re unhappy with one Team USA roster. It’s a nonsensical response, but so is any act spawned by spite.

Caitlin Clark, the promising rookie of the WNBA Indiana Fever and who happens to be white, was not chosen for Team USA’s women’s basketball roster. Her omission has some folks vowing to pull their support. It’s the latest grenade tossed into the volley of discourse surrounding Clark.

Don’t for a second believe that race — Clark’s skin color is appealing to casual fans previously repulsed by the majority-Black WNBA — is not driving this backlash.

Their love for country is conditional, which proves yet again that sports and politics are and always will be cousins, like it or not. It also is an example of how subjective definitions of patriotism can result in grotesque contortions of the meaning.

Which leads us to Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors and also — germane to this topic — Team USA’s men’s basketball squad. He is admired and detested for precisely the same reasons, mostly political.

Kerr last week announced his plan for the 2024 presidential election. He’s endorsing the incumbent, 81-year-old Joe Biden, rather than Donald Trump, the irrepressible convicted felon who turns 78 on Friday and is seeking a return to the White House.

Though Kerr’s decision is no surprise, some might consider a boycott because of his politics. When Kerr coached Team USA in the FIBA World Cup last summer, some Americans claimed they would root against America.

Kerr, however, is not bowing. Appearing Monday night on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle,” Kerr explained his support for Biden and reiterated his longtime crusade on another political issue that is polarizing but by logic shouldn’t be.

Gun safety.

“It’s clear that President Biden is really interested in implementing gun-safety measures,” Kerr said. “Common-sense gun violence prevention measures.”

Since his father, Malcolm, was assassinated on the American University of Beirut campus in 1984, Kerr has spent most of his life campaigning for laws designed to restrict the prevalence of guns.

Kerr pleads for universal background checks, and has worked with numerous organizations — including the Sandy Hook Promise, Giffords Law Center and March for Our Lives — dedicated to stemming the tide of gun violence, which is the leading cause of non-accidental death for teenagers in the United States.

“I know that we can prevent [deaths],” Kerr said. “President Biden is adamant that he’s going to push for common-sense laws that can do that. And I know that President Trump will not do that. So, it’s really a very simple choice for me.”

Kerr’s support of Biden and his pursuit of stricter gun laws are unpopular with conservatives and downright reviled by those willing to root against America. He’s profoundly aware of this, which is why he has staged his own boycott.

Once a frequent presence on social media — particularly Twitter, now known as X — Kerr has posted only once in the last 38 months — and not at all since a November 2021 video referencing the non-profit Innocence Project.

While many keyboard goons populating social media continue to urge Kerr to “stick to sports,” there is nothing to indicate he will “shut up and coach.”

And yet, Kerr is viewed in a generally positive light. The findings of a recent survey of 3,000 NBA fans concluded that he is the most-liked head coach in the league. Nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) Warriors fans consider themselves “familiar” with Kerr, which was well above the league average of 51 percent. Moreover, his “likability” score was 25 percent above average.

Kerr, 58, rails against injustice, marches for racial/gender equality and participates in voter registration drives. Though he now avoids posting on X, his “profile pic” memorializing the late George Floyd remains in place. He considers himself a patriot committed to the pursuit of a civilized and humane America.

Kerr’s detractors — primarily the same bunch salty about Clark not being on Team USA — consider him a radical who too often strays from the boundaries of sport.

But, naturally, he was asked on MSNBC about Clark’s absence from the women’s team.

“I’m sorry for her that she won’t be there,” Kerr said. “But I’m sure she’ll have a great chance in four years. When you put these Olympic teams together, all you care about is winning. It’s probably going to take Caitlin a couple years to really be at the top echelon.

“The women’s team is taking the 12 players they think can help bring home a gold. That’s exactly what the men’s team did. That’s the name of the game. No politics in the Olympics. We just want to win.”

A sensible response, without an ounce of spite, unlike those unwilling to support all teams representing their beloved country.

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