President Donald Trump mocked Steve Kerr on Wednesday after the Warriors coach declined to comment on the ongoing controversy between the NBA and China.
Trump was asked during a press conference whether or not it was wrong to be putting pressure on the NBA following Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong protestors last week.
"I watched this guy Steve Kerr and he was like a little boy who was so scared to be even answering the question. He couldn't answer the question. He was shaking, 'Oh, I don't know,'" Trump said. "He didn't know how to answer the question, and yet he'll talk about the United States very badly.
"I watched [Gregg] Popovich, sort of the same thing, but he didn't look quite as scared actually," Trump added. "But they talk badly about the United States but when we talk about China they don't want to say anything bad. I thought it was pretty sad, actually."
China's official basketball association suspended cooperation with the Rockets on Sunday. The association said that Morey had made “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong” to which it expressed its “strong opposition.” Chinese state television and Tencent, a major media partner with ESPN and the NBA in China, then said they would not be showing Rockets games this season.
The association announced on Monday that it would also be canceling NBA G League's planned exhibition games between Rockets affiliate Rio Grande Valley and Dallas Mavericks affiliate Texas later this month.
A pair of NBA Cares events in Shanghai were also canceled this week.
Kerr was unwilling to comment on the fallout between the league and China in recent days.
"Actually I don’t,” Kerr said when asked if he has thoughts on the controversy. "It’s a really bizarre international story. A lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about like everybody is, but I’m not gonna comment further."
Popovich, meanwhile, praised commissioner Adam Silver for his handling of the situation and standing up for Morey's freedom of speech.
"He came out strongly for freedom of speech," Popovich said, per the San Antonio Express-News. "I felt great again. He's been a heck of a leader in that respect and very courageous. Then you compare it to what we've had to live through the past three years, it's a big difference. A big gap there, leadership-wise and courage-wise. It wasn't easy for him to say. He said that in an environment fraught with possible economic peril. But he sided with the principles that we all hold dearly, or most of us did until the last three years. I'm thrilled with what he said. The courage and leadership displayed is off the charts by comparison."
The Lakers and Nets are still currently slated to play a pair of preseason games on Thursday and Saturday in Shanghai.