PORTLAND, Ore. -- In what turned out to be a heated contest, the Golden State Warriors held off the Portland Trail Blazers 113-111 on Sunday to extend their winning streak to three games. But that game was not the only spirited battle going on in Portland.
Ten miles away from the Moda Center, 500-plus protesters were at Portland International Airport demonstrating against President Donald Trump's recent executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. As soon as the order went into effect, refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia were being detained and questioned. Dismayed by the President and the treatment of Muslim immigrants in the United States, protesters all across the country flocked to their local airports to show their support and demonstrate against the executive order.
And while the President's executive order is solely directed at seven Muslim-majority countries, it is disconcerting for many in the NBA community. Bucks rookie Thon Maker and Lakers veteran Luol Deng are natives of Sudan and the NBA had to reach out to the State Department to get clarification on their travel to games in Toronto and out of the country going forward.
"We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries," an NBA spokesman said. "The NBA is a global league, and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world."
The President's executive order especially troubled Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was born in Lebanon and whose father was assassinated in an act of terrorism in 1984 in Beirut. After the game, he spoke at length about his views on the executive order.
"I would just say that as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father," Kerr said, "if we're trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles that this country is about and creating fear, it's the wrong way to go about it.
"If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror, so I'm completely against what's happening. I think it's shocking and a horrible idea, and I really feel for all the people who are affected. Families that are being torn apart, and I worry in the big picture what this means to the security of the world.
"It's going about it completely opposite. You want to solve terror, you want to solve crime, this is not the way to do it."
Kerr has spoken out about political issues in the past, much like one of his coaching mentors San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has had strong words about President Trump several times this season. Popovich, who graduated from the Air Force Academy and was briefly stationed in Eastern Europe before his coaching career, also commented about the President's executive order and shared some of the same thoughts as Kerr.
"As you already know, I have lots of thoughts about what we've done to ourselves as a country and what we've allowed to happen," Popovich said via ESPN's Michael C. Wright. "But we'll see where this goes. Obviously the rollout today was Keystone Kops-like by any measure with objectivity. Whether you want to say it's good or bad is irrelevant. But it was Keystone Kops, and that's scary."