Warriors coach: NFL using ‘fake patriotism’ to appease Trump
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Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr on Thursday slammed the NFL's new policy banning athletes from kneeling 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 ahead of a playoff game. “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."

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"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."

Players have knelt or sat during the past two seasons as part of a movement sparked by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE attacked Kaepernick and other players protesting in September, saying team owners should "get that son of a bitch off the field" when a player kneels. Dozens of players across the league took a knee in protest of Trump's comments in the weeks after.

The league announced a new policy on Wednesday barring players from kneeling during the anthem.

Trump on Thursday hailed 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.”

Kerr, a frequent critic of Trump, also ripped him 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?"