Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr on Thursday ripped the NFL’s new policy banning athletes from kneeling on-field during the national anthem, calling it “idiotic” and “fake patriotism.”
“They’re basically trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people,” Kerr told reporters in Houston. “It’s idiotic, but that’s how the NFL has handled their business. I’m proud to be in a league that understands patriotism in America is about free speech, peacefully protesting.”
“I think our leadership in the NBA understands that the NFL players were kneeling to protest police brutality, to protest racial inequality,” he added. “They weren’t disrespecting the flag or the military. Our president decided to make it about that and the NFL followed suit and pandered to their fan base.”
“People in high places are trying to divide us, divide loyalties and make this about the flag, as if the flag is something other than what it really is,” he said. “It’s a representation of what we’re about — diversity, peaceful protest, right to free speech. It’s really ironic, actually, what the NFL is doing.”
Steve Kerr criticized the NFL for its national anthem policy pic.twitter.com/eaCXC5WhCj
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) May 24, 2018
The new NFL policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem, which includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons. The on-field protests began in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
The protests drew increasing criticism from President Donald Trump, as well as many fans, who believed it was a sign of disrespect toward the flag and country.
Players will reportedly have the option to remain in the locker rooms and will only be fined if they appear on the field and then protest.
Trump on Thursday celebrated the rule, suggesting that those who can’t “stand proudly” during the anthem “shouldn’t be in the country.”
“You should stand proudly for the national anthem — or you shouldn’t be playing,” Trump said during an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning. “You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, and the NFL owners did the right thing.”
"You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem. You shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe they shouldn't be in the country…the NFL owners did the right thing" -President @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/bt36t4EX5u
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 24, 2018
Kerr also ripped Trump for his attacks on the NFL players who kneeled during the anthem in September.
“No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military, but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter,” Kerr said in an interview with ESPN.
“Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.”
“The idea of civil discourse with a guy who is tweeting and demeaning people and saying the things he’s saying is sort of far-fetched,” Kerr told ESPN. “Can you picture us really having a civil discourse with him?”