While looking ahead to Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday afternoon, the hoops world was given a sobering reminder that there are far more pressing issues facing the U.S. than who can put the most balls into a basket.
As reported by CNN and myriad other outlets, at least 21 people — including 18 children — were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It was the deadliest school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, during which Adam Lanza murdered 26 people.
The suspected shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was fatally wounded on the scene by responding law enforcement officers.
In the wake of the horrific incident, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr gave an emotional plea to American lawmakers to take action and help prevent future tragedies. He also expressed his exasperation over the incredible frequency with which mass shootings continue to occur.
Coach Kerr Speaks Out
Upon taking his seat at the podium to address the media ahead of Game 4, Kerr made it clear that he wasn’t there to discuss Xs, Os or anything else of the sort.
“I’m not gonna to talk about basketball. Nothing’s happened with our team in the last six hours. We’re going to start the same way tonight. Any basketball questions don’t matter.”
Kerr then launched into a nearly three-minute rant about gun violence in the U.S. and the inability — or unwillingness — of those who are in power to address the problem in a meaningful way.
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr demanded to know, hitting the table as he did so. “I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there, I’m tired of the excuses, I’m tired of the moments of silence — enough.”
The Warriors coach further took aim at GOP senators for their inaction with regard to HR8 — the Bipartisan Background Checks Act — which has twice passed the House of Representatives but has not been taken to a vote in the Senate.
“There’s a reason they won’t vote on it — to hold onto power,” Kerr said. “So I ask you, Mitch McConnell, I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, school shootings and supermarket shootings, I ask you: are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children? Of our elderly and our church-goers? Because that’s what it looks like. It’s what we do every week”
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Kerr Has a Personal Understanding of Gun Violence
The 56-year-old Kerr knows better than most what gun violence looks like and the effect that it can have on a whole community of people. On January, 18 1984, his father — Malcolm Kerr — was shot and killed by two gunmen while serving as the president of the American University in Beirut. His death was later claimed by the Islamic Jihad.
Although he has rarely spoken about his father’s death in the public forum, Kerr told The New York Times in 2016 that he tries to channel his experience in a positive way.
“I really realized from [Gregg Popovich] and [Phil Jackson] that I could use my experience as a kid and growing up to my advantage as a coach,” Kerr said. “And connect with players and try to keep that healthy perspective. Keep it fun, and don’t take it too seriously.”