In the wake of the shooting deaths of 17 people at a school in Parkland, FL, the latest incident in the long-running batshit-crazy psychodrama of American assault rifle attacks, I am reminded that some of the best takedowns of the infantile Donald J. Trump; his corrupt, inept administration; and GOP moral vacancy in general have come from a pair of basketball coaches, Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, two men who have become rich and famous through professional sports but in fact offer a great deal more, starting with fierce intelligence and deep humanity, traits that are in very short supply right now in the White House and among majority leaders on Capitol Hill. For this reason I’m taking a stance that’s half-serious (maybe): Kerr and Popovich for president/VP in 2020
Popovich, 69, is an NBA legend who has led the small-market San Antonio Spurs to five league championships and 20 consecutive winning seasons. Kerr, 52, has enjoyed what looks like a too-easy career as a member of the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls, a national broadcaster, and the coach of the talent-rich Golden State Warriors. If you didn’t know better you would think Kerr is one of those guys who has breezed-by on charm and good looks, and you would be wrong.
Steve Kerr’s life story is unique, and some of it is heart-wrenching. By the time he had become perhaps the most popular athlete in school history at the University of Arizona–inspiring an arena full of basketball fans to repeatedly and ritualistically shout “STEVE KERR” in unison–he had already endured more misfortune than many of us encounter in a lifetime. His father was Malcolm Kerr, an educator who was president of American University in Beirut and was killed there by terrorists in 1984. Steve Kerr carried that terrible burden forward and wore it on his sleeve as maturity and leadership. As a coach, Kerr took a Warriors team that was already very good and introduced a meticulously thought-out, innovative approach that made it the best in the NBA, winning two of last three league titles. Kerr had never coached before.
I know three people who know Gregg Popovich personally, and they each talk about his loyalty and integrity. They go back to his years as a student at the Air Force Academy and a stint as a young coach at a small California college. Popovich, known as “Pop,” doesn’t forget his friends. He leaves them tickets when his team travels to Northern California, and he is careful to make time for them away from the demands of players and the media. As a coach, Pop has excelled through flexibility, tactical brilliance, savvy player acquisitions in collaboration with the Spurs front office, and brutal honesty. He connects with his players and motivates them, and sometimes he might even scare them a little.
So let’s look at Kerr-Popovich on the issues. Pop has been very eloquent in his assessments of Trump:
1) Responding to a lie Trump told about his response to the deaths of four soldiers in comparison to other presidents, Popovich said, “This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it.”
2) On Trump and all the commotion last fall over athletes choosing not to stand-for or otherwise recognize the national anthem: “The childishness, the gratuitous fear mongering and race baiting, has been so consistent that it’s almost expected. The bar has been lowered so far that I think it’s more important to be thinking about what to do in more organic roots based level. Thinking about the efforts to restrict voter registration, comments that demean cultures, ethic groups, races, women. Those sorts of things. What can be done in an organic way to fight that?”
Kerr took time last night before a Warriors loss to address the attack in Florida, saying, “It doesn’t seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death, day after day in schools. It doesn’t matter that people are being shot at a concert, at a movie theater. It’s not enough, apparently, to move our leadership, our government, the people who are running this country to actually do anything. That’s demoralizing. But we can do something about it, we can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect people’s lives, not just bow down to the NRA because they’ve financed their campaign for them. Hopefully we’ll find enough people, first of all to vote, get people in, but hopefully we’ll find enough people to actually help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues, not building some stupid wall for millions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety, but actually protecting us from what truly is dangerous, which is maniacs with semi-automatic weapons just slaughtering our children. It’s disgusting.”
It’s even more powerful on video.
Yeah, we can elect new people – guys like this. What, you ask, basketball coaches as national leaders? Well, as you can see, they’re already leaders, and in the current farce we’re forced to suffer through, why the hell wouldn’t we consider people like them?
Kerr-Popovich 2020? Sure, I’d be interested. (Half-seriously)