Steve Kerr, head coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors and an assistant coach for Team USA, brought up AR-15s and mass shootings in response to a question about Chinese human rights Thursday.
NBA players, coaches, and team executives have been bombarded with questions about China and the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong since last week, when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sparked a conflict between China and the NBA with a tweet supportive of Hong Kong.
A reporter asked Kerr if he had been asked about Chinese human rights abuses during previous trips he has taken to China for basketball reasons.
"No. Nor has our record of human rights abuses come up either," Kerr responded. "People in China didn't ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall. The world is a complex place and there's more gray than black and white."
Of course, Kerr's reasons for not wanting to discuss human rights abuses in China likely have nothing to do with the fact that mass murders happen in the United States. His reticence to criticize China is, like everyone else in the NBA, tied to how much money the league will lose if the Chinese government severs ties.
In response to Morey's tweet, the Chinese government has already taken some NBA preseason games off state television and shut down some NBA-related media events. The Chinese Basketball League has suspended its relationship with the Houston Rockets.
Human rights abuses aside, the NBA is very much in bed with China financially. USA Today reported that a conservative estimate puts NBA revenue from China at $500 million. NBA China, a business arm of the NBA, is valued at $5 billion, according to the Sports Business Journal.
The league's biggest stars travel to China every year to sell shoes and apparel for companies like Nike and Under Armour, and other league stars have major endorsement deals with Chinese companies. The bottom line is, if the NBA loses China, everyone in the NBA loses money.
The NBA and its stars have no problem speaking up on social justice and human rights in America — which is important, and they should continue to do so. However, watching those same stars squirm and deflect when asked about justice for people resisting communism in China exposes that they're only willing to speak up when the cost isn't too high.
(H/T: Fox News)