Steve Kerr pens open letter to Trump: 'You represent all of us. Don’t divide us.'
MANILA, Philippines – Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr released a first-person essay statement as told to Chris Ballard of SI.com on US President Donald Trump's protest comments on Sunday, September 24.
Kerr's NBA championship team was disinvited from the White House after the team deliberated openly about whether they'd be interested in meeting Trump, who in a Washington Post/ABC News poll published Sunday was considered by 66% of respondents to be dividing the country. Trump singled out the team's star guard Stephen Curry in a tweet, an incident which Curry called "surreal."
Kerr wrote that Trump's comments against NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem, whom Trump called "sons of bitches", have "crushed" him, as the players are expressing their protest against violence and racial discrimination within the country.
"Instead, we get Trump’s comments over the weekend about NFL players, calling them ‘sons of bitches’ for kneeling during the anthem. Those just crushed me. Crushed me. Just think about what those players are protesting. 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. Which is everything that Martin Luther King preached, right? A lot of American military members will tell you that the right to free speech is exactly what they fight for. And it’s just really, really upsetting that the leader of our country is calling for these players to be ‘fired.’"
Kerr shared that the president made it difficult for his team to visit the White House with his "offensive words and actions."
"Would we have gone? Probably not. 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. But I can tell you one thing: it wouldn’t have been for the traditional ceremony, to shake hands and smile for cameras. Internally, we’d discussed whether it’d be possible to just go and meet as private citizens and have a serious, poignant discussion about some of the issues we’re concerned about. But he’s made it hard for any of us to actually enter the White House, because what’s going on is not normal. It’s childish stuff: belittling people and calling them names," Kerr wrote.
Kerr compared his coaching position to the President's, and reminded that people in positions of power should "respond diplomatically and maintain a level of respect and dignity," as that a failure to do so will result in "embarrassment."
"Look, I’m a basketball coach and what I do obviously pales in comparison to what the president does. But our jobs are similar in at least one respect: If you want to be an NBA coach, you need to be prepared to be criticized. You kind of know that going in. If I coach poorly and we lose the game, I hear about it. That’s okay. It’s really where we coaches earn our money, accepting and dealing with criticism and keeping the ship moving forward. There has to be an inherent understanding when you enter into any public position of power that this is what happens.
"People are going to take shots at you and it’s incumbent upon you to absorb those shots. Maybe you respond diplomatically, but you maintain a level of respect and dignity. What you can’t do is just angrily lash out. Can you imagine if I lashed out at all my critics every day and belittled them? I’d lose my players, I’d embarrass ownership, I’d embarrass myself. Pretty soon I’d be out of a job. It’s a basic adult thing that you learn as you grow up: People aren't always going to agree with you. And that’s OK."
The Warriors head coach ended his essay with a response directed at President Trump, reminding him that he is there to "represent" all American citizens, and not just his base which voted for him.
"Remember, the president works for us, not vice versa. We elected him. He doesn’t just work for his constituents and his base. He works for every citizen. Once you take that office, you have to do what’s best for the entire country. Sure, you’re going to have policies that align with your party, but that’s not the point.
"Respectfully, Mr. Trump, the point is this: You’re the president. You represent all of us. Don’t divide us. Bring us together." – Rappler.com