The day after the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the White House was called off by President Donald Trump, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr criticized a concept of patriotism that features “these military sing-a-longs at the White House to show how patriotic we are — even though we don’t know the words.”
Kerr was asked about the Minnesota Lynx, the WNBA champions who were uninvited to the White House and spent their day in Washington helping underprivileged children in a District of Columbia school. On Tuesday, Trump had disinvited the Eagles after the size of their contingent shrank to around a dozen players, replacing it with a “Celebration of America” that featured military bands. During the playing of “God Bless America,” the president, who has demanded that NFL players stand for the national anthem instead of peacefully protest to raise awareness of social injustice and policy brutality by kneeling or raising a fist, sang only part of the song.
Kerr, like San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, has been outspoken in his criticism of Trump, and found it particularly ironic that the Eagles have been actively been doing “good deeds in their communities.” Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long have been especially active. None of the Eagles players knelt during the anthem at any point last season.
“I think what you’re seeing is, I think the athletes are showing patriotism through their community service,” Kerr told reporters in response to a question about the Lynx before Game 3 of the NBA Finals. “The president is turning all of this stuff into a political game and a ratings game and it’s a blatant display of nationalism. What patriotism is is helping your fellow citizen and whether it’s what [Kevin Durant] is doing or what we did when we visited Washington or what the Lynx are doing today, that’s what patriotism is about.”
The Warriors, last year’s NBA champs, were not invited to the White House, a moot point since they said they would not go if invited. Last year, they took a group of students to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Durant, who is from the Washington area, officially announced his foundation’s $10 million College Track program to help students in high school and college.
Whether the Warriors or the Cavs win the NBA Finals, don’t expect that to change this year. On Tuesday, LeBron James said neither team would visit the White House and Steph Curry and Durant agreed.
Kerr admitted that he was “blown away by the irony of the Eagles being disinvited. When you read about their good deeds in their communities - Malcolm Jenkins addressing lawmakers, really trying to get to the root of some of the issues that we have - and instead we just have these military sing-a-longs at the White House to show how patriotic we are - even though we don’t know the words.
“It’s just incredible. It is incredible. But I’m really proud of people in this country who are recognizing what’s happening and instead of turning this into a political game, they’re just trying to do good deeds because that’s what it takes.”