For the last couple of seasons, the NBA has steered clear of politics. It's almost certainly been behind the league's surge in television ratings this season.
This season, it's been all about the basketball.
Commissioner Adam Silver and the rest of the league's deep-thinkers are behind this change. Social activism is always welcome in the NBA. It's just no longer at the forefront.
But that may be about to change. After all, the upcoming Finals will feature the Golden State Warriors vs. the Boston Celtics. Game 1 is Thursday in San Francisco.
And the Warriors are coached by none other than Steve Kerr, a hard-left activist if there ever was one.
As you likely know, Kerr just had to offer his take on gun control in wake of the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The mainstream media knows Kerr is looking to speak out on these issues, and NBA reporters always dutifully make sure to ask. Kerr is just so smart, he must be heard, the media seems to think.
Agree or disagree with Kerr's stance, there is no debate that he turned a terrible event into a chance to push his personal politics.
"I ask you, Mitch McConnell, and ask all of you Senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, the school shootings, the supermarket shootings, I ask you -- Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children, our elderly, and our churchgoers? Because that’s what it looks like," Kerr said, clearly not realizing this was not the time nor the place for this type of immature, self-serving take.
"Fifty Senators in Washington are going to hold us hostage. Do you realize 90 percent of Americans, regardless of political party, want universal background checks? We’re being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put it to a vote, despite what we, the American people, want. They won’t vote on it, because they want to hold onto their own power. It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough.”
Steve Kerr, basketball coach, has had enough. Guess we'd best brace for major change. Or something.
Again, there's nothing wrong with a basketball coach having political opinions. Provided, of course, that coach speaks to what the media wants him to say. He can talk politics, no matter how much tact he lacks, as long as it fits the narrative.
So Kerr was celebrated as a strong voice that matters. But his voice matters most when he's talking basketball. Using his pulpit to immediately politicize a tragedy ... was fairly classless.
It's understandably the type of tough talk that drives away half of the NBA audience. It's why the NBA, as a league, has gotten away from it.
But now comes Kerr and his Warriors, fighting for another title, this time vs. the Celtics. Let's hope Kerr will be able to keep his politics to himself and allow the NBA to continue to do what it has been doing a lot lately.
It has surged, with all sides politically setting aside their differences to tune in again, as sports unites and often serves as a much-needed distraction. When Steve Kerr will allow it, that is.