How often to you hear unsolicited apologies these days? How about someone admitting that not only were they wrong, but that they embarrassed themselves in the process?
Unless someone’s job is at stake, it’s increasingly rare, which makes Steve Kerr’s comments on a recent KQED podcast all the more refreshing.
Kerr admits he put his foot in his mouth when discussing, or electing not to discuss, the human rights violations going on in Hong Kong at the hands of the Chinese government, in a conversation with Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos on their “Political Breakdown” podcast.
“That was a really, really uncomfortable position to be in,” Kerr said. “China has been a partner in the NBA — and obviously across America with thousands of companies — so all of a sudden, when the human rights issues really are being exposed and you’re asked about it and you’re part of the NBA, it’s like, ‘Oh, wait a second.’
“I was sort of deer in the headlights when I was asked about it. And I think it caught a lot of us by surprise. I handled it horribly. I regret my answer to this day. I sort of gave it ‘no comment,’ and then said something else. It was really embarrassing.
“But that’s part of the deal when you’re part of the public eye and you choose to speak out. You have to take that. You gotta be ready. You’re gonna screw up sometimes.”
Kerr wasn’t the only one to find himself in hot water when discussing the situation. LeBron James went so far as to criticize Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who fractured business relations between China and the NBA for tweeting and quickly deleting “stand with Hong Kong” in October. James would eventually walk back the comments, but claimed that they were taken out of context.
Speaking of context, here’s what Kerr said in October that he now regrets:
“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.”