Alternative facts spreading through the sporting world

Golden State coach Steve Kerr is enjoying manipulating his numbers, following the lead of new US President Donald Trump. Photo / AP
Golden State coach Steve Kerr is enjoying manipulating his numbers, following the lead of new US President Donald Trump. Photo / AP

There is, naturally, only one topic on American minds this week, and for the sporting world, the focus is no different.

While an increasingly number of people are surely using sports to escape the madness that has been Donald Trump's first week in the White House, there has been no escaping his influence in the NBA, where the discourse has struck a tone between critical and outright ridicule.

First, after press secretary Sean Spicer's rant about the crowd numbers at the president's inauguration, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr took a not-so-subtle jab while discussing his playing career with the Magic before his team's game in Orlando.

"Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now," Kerr joked about a 46-game tenure in which he scored 34 points. "Fourteen thousand points, greatest player in Magic history."

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich followed his counterpart's lead and landed another blow, this time taking aim at Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway's amusing employment of "alternative facts" as a credible defence for all the lies.

"Kawhi [Leonard] is out with an injury that's not really an injury, but hopefully it will heal quickly," Popovich said. "That's a figurative statement. It sounds like some of the things that are going on politically in the world. I apologise. I just gave an alternative fact. I shouldn't have done that."

Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni then joined the pile-on when asked about his team going 3-5 over their past eight games - "Actually we won all those games. I'm going with that alternative fact thing" - before the University of Tennessee finished the fight by printing a flurry of alternative facts in their programme notes.

(Included among those: gems about players like Kyle Alexander being entirely unfamiliar with the game of basketball until he watched the Michael J Fox movie Teen Wolf.)

And, not to be outdone, the Dallas Stars had the best gag of all in the NHL, announcing on their jumbotron that the attendance for a game with the Washington Capitals was 1.5 million. Keep it up, people.

Tom Brady plays defence for a changeBut not everyone in sport is mocking the new president. There is, after all, his "good friend" Tom Brady, about to play in another Super Bowl and still being bothered by all those pesky Trump questions.

Brady brought this on himself, starting the saga early in the campaign by proudly displaying a red 'Make America Great Again' cap in his locker. But after initially saying it "would be great" if Trump won the election, Brady then clammed up when his buddy started spouting racist and misogynistic screed.

Unfortunately for the New England Patriots quarterback, his association with the prez just won't go away, still stuck fielding Trump questions while he's trying to prepare for next Monday's Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons.

When quizzed on radio station WEEI earlier in the week, Brady was asked about reportedly calling Trump before the president's inauguration, first unleashing the following nonsensical answer:

"I'm a pretty positive person, so I don't want to create any distractions for our team and so forth. I just try and stay positive and actually this world could use a little more positivity.

"Everything's not great in this world and everything is not great in life. But if you try and take a positive approach ... I try to do that. I try to do that in practice. I try to do that with my team. I try to do that with my family.

"That's how I go about life. I don't like negativity. I don't like a lot of confrontation. Those things don't make me feel very good. I wouldn't be a good talk show host."

Pressed again about the call in a bid to add even the slightest bit of clarification, Brady was slightly more forthcoming, but still showed an evasiveness the new administration would be proud of.

"I have called him, yes, in the past. Sometimes he calls me. Sometimes I call. But, again, that's been someone I've known. I always try to keep it in context because, for 16 years, you know someone before maybe he was in the position that he was in. He's been very supportive of me for a long time. It's just a friendship. I have a lot of friends. I call a lot of people."

That does sound a little like Trump's infamous, "I know words, I have the best words", but Brady has always been known more for his abilities than his brains.

- NZ Herald

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