Don’t expect USA Basketball to bring us together

A headline in the sports section of the Washington Post (paper edition) declares: “Popovich and Kerr hope U.S. team is unifying force.” The reference is to Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who are coaching USA Basketball in the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

I assume the Post’s headline was written without irony. In reality, USA basketball couldn’t have selected two coaches less likely to be a unifying force.

Popovich and Kerr are outspoken critics of President Trump. Popovich, USA Basketball’s head coach, is more than outspoken. He has called Trump a “pathological liar” and a “soulless coward” who “brings out the dark side of human beings” and is “unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically” to be president.

Unifying? I don’t think so.

Popovich and Kerr are entitled to express these kinds of opinions, some of which are not without a basis. However, it’s laughable to suggest that, with coaches like these, USA Basketball will be a unifying force in America.

Roughly half of America supports Donald Trump, and a sizable minority supports him ardently. I doubt that many Trump supporters will be rallying behind USA Basketball this year. I won’t be, and I’m not ardently pro-Trump.

Kerr says the U.S. women’s soccer team, some of whose members went back and forth with Trump during the women’s World Cup this Spring, is an “inspiring” model for USA Basketball. As a model for prevailing over teams from countries that don’t take their sport as seriously as America does, Kerr might have a point.

But if Popovich and Kerr plan to go “Megan Rapinoe” on us, as seems to be the case, they won’t be unifying America. Nor, unable to attach its coattails to feminism, will USA Basketball likely generate much enthusiasm at all.

Indeed, there’s a good chance it will largely be ignored unless, perhaps, Twitter wars break out among team members and/or their wives and girlfriends. Professional basketball relies on this sort of drama. along with players selecting whom they will play with, to maximize attention.

The idea that a team led by outspoken Trump-haters will be a unifying force in America is emblematic of one of the left’s most fraudulent conceits. It portrays itself (e.g., in the pages of the Washington Post) as opposing divisiveness, even as it persistently demonizes those with whom it disagrees.

The demonizing isn’t confined to Donald Trump who is, in fact, divisive. The left demonized more passive leaders like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan, to cite just three examples, with a venom that sometimes approached what it dishes out to Trump.

The difference between Trump and Bush/Romney/Ryan is not so much in how they have been treated by the left. The main difference is that Trump dishes the venom back.