NEW YORK (WFAN) — Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr let it be known this season they don’t care much for President Donald Trump.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, however, says he has no qualms about letting coaches and players speak out about politics.
“To me, I know this may sound naive or pollyannaish, but it’s America,” Silver told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Wednesday. “I think these guys, as long as they don’t lose their focus on their day jobs — and they’re both incredible coaches … I think it’s important that they speak their mind.”
But Silver added that it’s important the messages be shared in a respectful way.
“You would hope, even if you’re a fan and you disagree with a coach or a player because of their political position, that you’re also able to say that’s our country and people are entitled to their opinion as long as it doesn’t impact the way they play the game,” the commissioner said. “I applaud them, and I support them for having the courage to do that.
“Do I cringe sometimes and worry that we’re trying to appeal to all aspects of the political spectrum? I do, but I think on balance, I think people will respect our coaches and our players for expressing themselves and having a point of view.”
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Popovich has attacked Trump a number of times. After Trump was elected in November, the Spurs coach said he was “sick to his stomach” that America elected a candidate who has made “xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic” comments. Earlier this month, he said Trump’s actions in office are aimed at serving himself, “not our people or our country.”
In January, Kerry criticized Trump’s immigration travel ban by saying, “If we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re really going against the principles of what this country is about and creating fear.” Earlier this month, the Warriors coach was more personal, telling Sports Illustrated, “Trump couldn’t be more ill-suited to be president, because he’s a blowhard.”
Silver said he is still working with owners and general managers to write guidelines for resting players.
While the issue has become a hot-button one, Silver noted that All-Star players have actually been playing in roughly the same number of games over the past 30 years.
“What happened this season, which is unprecedented and understandably upset a lot of fans and people around the league, is that teams started resting multiple starters on the same night,” he said.
“I’m trying to find a place where the commissioner or the league office isn’t dictating to these great coaches precisely what minutes they should be playing players.”
Silver said he’d like to encourage teams not to rest multiple starters in the same game and to avoid resting stars for road games because fans in some cities have one opportunity each year to see those players in action.
Silver added that some rest for players is good for the league.
“It’s in the larger fan interest that these players do get occasional rest because that’s where the correlation to injury comes in, and that when you have players who are fatigued and then they continue to play, it increases the likelihood they get injured,” he said. “Then they’re not available for the playoffs, they’re not available for the finals.”
While the Warriors and Cavaliers will square off in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year starting Thursday, Silver took exception with criticism that there is a problem with competitive balance in the NBA.
“We have six different teams (that have) won the championships over the last seven years,” he said. “Over the last seven years, 16 different teams have been to the conference finals. I look at the NFL, and the Patriots — Tom Brady’s incredible, the franchise is incredible, and I think they’ve been in seven of the last 15 or so Super Bowls and won five of them — and I think the response there is celebrate excellence, and other teams try to emulate it.”
To listen to Francesa’s interview with the commissioner, click on the audio player above.