Golden State coach Steve Kerr, trying to guide the Warriors to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, ripped the NFL's new anthem policy and America's lack of gun safety laws as "idiotic" on Thursday.
Speaking ahead of a Western Conference finals showdown against Houston with the best-of-seven series level at 2-2, Kerr accused the NFL of fearmongering and "fake patriotism" in limiting protests by forbidding players from kneeling during the pre-game playing of the national anthem.
"It's just typical of the NFL," Kerr said.
"They are just playing to their fan base and they are just basically trying the use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people.
"It's idiotic, but that's how the NFL has handled their business."
In the wake of US President Donald Trump making a major issue of players kneeling during the anthem, NFL club owners unveiled a plan Wednesday where home teams decide if they will take the field for the anthem and all players who do must stand. Those who don't risk a fine for their clubs and subsequent possible punishment by the team.
The kneeling issue began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 over racial injustice and police brutality after incidents involving unarmed African-American men.
It had largely vanished by last September when Trump declared any kneeler a "son of a bitch" and said they should be fired for insulting the flag and the nation.
"I'm proud to be in a league that understands patriotism in America is about free speech and peacefully protesting," Kerr said.
"Our leadership in the NBA understands that when the NFL players were kneeling they were kneeling to protest police brutality, protest racial inequality. They weren't disrespecting our flag or the military.
"But our president decided to make it about that. The NFL followed suit, pandered to their fan base, created this hysteria. It's kind of what's wrong with our country right now — people in high places are trying to divide us, divide loyalties, make this about the flag, as if the flag is something other than what it really is.
"It's a representation of what we're about, which is diversity and peaceful protests and abilities and right to free speech. So it's really ironic what the NFL is doing."
Kerr, known for speaking out on social issues, said the NBA sets a strong example with management, coaches and players united.
"We feel like we're all partners," Kerr said.
"I'm really proud of our players around the league for really being community leaders, being outspoken for good, for the change we need."
When it comes to change, Kerr was adamant more needs to be done to curtail random gun violence. His plea came just hours before a pre-game ceremony in Houston in tribute to victims of last week's school shooting at nearby Santa Fe, where 10 people were killed and 13 more were wounded.
"It's obviously devastating any time you hear a story like this. What's equally devastating is the number of times you hear these stories," Kerr said.
It was the 22nd US school shooting incident of 2018 and that doesn't last year's Las Vegas shooting where 58 people were killed or the 2016 Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando where 49 were killed — one where a moment of silence was held before an NBA Finals game involving the Warriors.
"It was two years ago and we still haven't done anything. Our country, our government still hasn't done anything, in terms of gun safety laws," Kerr said.
Lawmakers are divided on a remedy, some wanting to limit access to guns and some arguing that more guns are the answer.
"Basic safety laws make so much sense and yet we're tied up in this idiotic political battle, ideological battle," Kerr said.
"There are so many common sense gun reform measures we could take and yet we refuse to do so out of ideological philosophies and kids continue to get slaughtered."
Kerr was ready for another heartbreaking night of tribute that brings a solution no closer.
"It's going to be sad and everybody is going to heartbroken," Kerr said.
"And nobody is going to do anything about it and it's disgusting."