Steve Kerr didn’t want to talk about basketball.
Despite the Golden State Warriors being one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 2019, Kerr turned his attention to a deadly mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left at least 21 people, including 19 children, dead less than 400 miles away from American Airlines Center in Dallas.
“Any basketball questions don’t matter,” Kerr said in a passionate speech ahead of Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks. “Since we’ve left shootaround, 14 children were killed… and a teacher. In the last 10 days, we’ve had elderly Black people killed in a supermarket in Buffalo, we’ve had Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California. Now we have children murdered at school.”
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr questioned as he slammed his hands on the table in frustration, while holding back tears. “I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m so tired. Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m tired of moments of silence. Enough.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said a 18-year-old shooter walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde around noon Central time and opened fire. The shooter was likely killed by responding police and had a handgun and possibly a rifle, Abbott said. It marks the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history.
Kerr said that although the Warriors and Mavericks “will play the game tonight,” he asked “every person here” and “every person listening… to think about your own child or grandchild, mother or father, sister, brother.”
He added, “How would you feel if this happened to you today?”
Gun violence is personal to Kerr, who remains an outspoken advocate for social issues. His father Malcolm H. Kerr was gunned down in 1984 by two extremists at the American University of Beirut, where he served as the university president.
“We can’t get numb to this. We can’t sit here and just read about it and go, well let’s have a moment of silence. Go Dubs. C’mon Mavs, let’s go,” Kerr said. “That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to play a basketball game. Fifty Senators in Washington are going to hold us hostage.”
He continued: “Do you realize that 90 percent of American, regardless of political party, want background checks? … We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put (HR8) to a vote, despite what we American people want. They won’t vote on it because they want to hold onto their power. It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough.”
Stephen Curry reposted Kerr’s speech on Twitter, writing, “Watch this as much as you watch the game tonight.”
Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd echoed Kerr’s sentiments.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas,” said Kidd, who tried to maintain his composure. “We send our condolences to our fellow Texans and we will keep them in our hearts. We will truly play with heavy hearts tonight for the school of Robb Elementary School.”
Kidd said the aftermath of the school mass shooting is “more important than basketball.”
“As coaches and fathers, we have kids… You just think what can take place with any of your family and friends at school,” Kidd said. “We’re going to try to play the game. We have no choice, the game is not going to be canceled… but the news of what’s happening, not just here in Texas but throughout our country, is sad.”
NBA stars, from Lebron James to Chris Paul, also reacted to the shooting.
The San Antonio Spurs, located about 85 miles from Uvalde, Texas, tweeted that “there are no right words” to say after the shooting: “Our hearts are with you and all of our neighbors impacted by today’s horrific shooting.”
“My thoughts and prayers goes out to the families of love ones loss & injured at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX! Like when is enough enough man!!! These are kids and we keep putting them in harms way at school. Like seriously “AT SCHOOL” where it’s suppose to be the safest!” James tweeted.
He added, “There simply has to be change! HAS TO BE!! .. Praying to the heavens above to all with kids these days in schools.”
Jayson Tatum tweeted: “Breaks my heart hearing this news, no parent should ever have to lose there child. Praying for the families of those kids and the teacher … this is devastating.”
“Absolutely tragic,” Paul tweeted. “We have to do better as a country!! Me and my family are sending prayers to the families affected today at Robb Elementary
The Houston Astros also sent their condolences.
“The Astros are absolutely heartbroken by today’s tragedy in our state. We mourn for the victims, their families and the entire community of Uvalde and will hold them close to our hearts,” the organization tweeted.
Follow Cydney Henderson on Twitter at @CydHenderson.