There, in the crowd at President Donald Trump’s rally in Duluth, Minn., was NBA legend Kevin McHale.
— Ben Golnik (@bgolnik) June 21, 2018
Or at least we’re pretty sure it was him, because this is Minnesota, and that has to be Kevin McHale:
Plus, a Twitter account you would figure for a Russian bot if it didn’t bear McHale’s wife’s name all but confirmed their appearance at the rally, writing “heading there now #MAGA” just before the event. She’s written a whole lot of other things on there, too, sharing far-right conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s birthplace and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in Seth Rich’s death in addition to mocking both the #MeToo movement and school shooting survivors. This wild take preceded the rally:
I don’t have to explain to you why comparing detention centers to daycares is ridiculous, but that’s neither here nor there. This is about Kevin McHale being at a rally where people are chanting “build that wall,” “lock her up” and “drain the swamp” in support of the man who is responsible for a zero-tolerance immigration policy resulting in caged children, who is under investigation for obstruction of justice and whose administration is littered with indictments, and what that means in the NBA.
Now, we don’t know why McHale was there. He might have been supporting his wife. He might have been curious about this rally culture. He might have been bored in Duluth. But the optics aren’t great, not in the NBA, where superstars and high-profile coaches have almost universally denounced Trump as “a blowhard” (and worse) who has “routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words” (and worse).
Outside of Dennis Rodman, Latrell Sprewell and a few owners — James Dolan of the New York Knicks, Richard DeVos of the Orlando Magic and Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers to name three — you won’t find many people involved in the NBA who are willing to associate themselves with Trump, and McHale is most definitely involved in the NBA as a Boston Celtics great, ex-coach and NBA TV analyst.
There are those who are calling for McHale’s job, and no — that’s not the answer here. And there are those who are blowing the dog whistle in response to the criticism of McHale, and that ain’t it, either.
Kevin McHale just became the other side of Collin Kaepernick. Hard to see him ever coaching again in the NBA.
— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) June 21, 2018
It is interesting, though, how McHale will be welcomed back to the NBA community, especially on set, where fellow Turner Sports analysts Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller have called Trump supporters “a bunch of damn idiots” and agreed that the president “has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists.” Conversely, Shaquille O’Neal and NBA on TNT host Ernie Johnson have been more hopeful about Trump and his supporters, at least in the immediate aftermath of the election.
On the one hand, the NBA TV set might be like any other workplace, where conservatives and liberals coexist without debating politics, and on the other that might be difficult in the NBA, where the subject of Trump — and the widespread distaste for his policies — has been a constant conversation. The response from the NBA community to McHale’s mere presence at a Trump rally will be a fascinating test case of how the president has further divided the country along a clearly defined line.
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