Warriors' Steve Kerr doesn't give opinion on Daryl Morey-China controversy


SAN FRANCISCO -- During his five-year tenure as Warriors coach, Steve Kerr has spoken out on a number of social topics about which he's passionate.

However, following the controversy surrounding Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's comments on China, Kerr chose not to give an opinion on the matter.  

"I don't," Kerr said following Warriors practice Monday evening. "It's a really bizarre international story, and a lot of us don't know what to make of it. So it's something I'm reading about just like everybody is, but I'm not going to comment further than that.

"What I've found is that it's easy to speak on issues that I'm passionate about and that I feel like I'm well-versed on, and I've found that it makes the most sense to stick to topics that fall in that category," he added. "So I try to keep my comments to those things, and so it's not difficult. It's more I'm just trying to learn." 

Kerr's comments come three days after Morey tweeted and deleted “stand with Hong Kong” in support of protests happening in the city. The tweet caused a firestorm in China, as country officials denounced the tweet and Chinese shoe companies Li Ning and Anta paused sponsorships with the Rockets. The Chinese Basketball Association -- whose commissioner is former Rockets star Yao Ming -- cut off ties with the team until a "reasonable explanation" for the comments was given.  

Morey's comments put the NBA and some of its players in an awkward position. Not only is the country hosting exhibition games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets this week, but the league has a lucrative business relationship with the Communist country. Tencent -- a Chinese news company that signed a $1.5 billion streaming deal with the league in July -- announced it would suspend all Rockets-related programming. 

In the fallout, NBA executives also denounced Morey's comments. Nets majority owner Joseph Tsai -- who owns Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba -- said Morey's comments "will take a long time to repair.” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass called Morey's comments "regrettable." 

While those officials responded to Morey’s comments, Kerr made it clear the league hasn’t provided direction on how to approach the controversy.

"Nobody has said anything to us from the league or from the organization about whether we can comment or not comment," Kerr said.

Following his tweets Friday night, Morey apologized in a follow-up post on Twitter.  

“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” Morey wrote, adding that his view did not represent that of the team or the NBA. “I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.’’

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The controversy comes as Hong Kong is embroiled in protests relating to human rights violations. Hong Kong -- which was a democracy under British rule until 1997 -- has operated under a "one country, two systems" rule, giving the pro-democracy city more discretion under China's communist rule. However, since a proposed bill to allow extradition into China's mainland in June, protests have erupted pushing for full democracy in Hong Kong. 

During his time with the Warriors, Kerr has voiced his opinion on social issues relating to human rights. In 2018, he spoke at a rally condemning gun violence at Newark Memorial High School. Kerr also has spoken out against US President Donald Trump, calling him a "racist."

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