Steve Kerr didn’t want to talk about basketball.
Although the Golden State Warriors are one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 2019, Kerr has turned his attention to a Texas elementary school shooting which killed at least 21 people, including 18 children, less than 400 miles from the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
“All the basketball questions don’t matter,” Kerr said in an impassioned speech before Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks. “Since we left the shooting, 14 children have been killed…and a teacher. In the past 10 days, elderly black people have been killed in a supermarket in Buffalo, Asian worshipers have been killed in Southern California .Now we have kids murdered at school.”
“When are we going to do something? Kerr questioned as he slammed his hands on the table in frustration, fighting back tears. “I’m so tired of getting up here and offering my condolences to the devastated families out there. I’m so tired. Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said an 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 is the deadliest school shooting in state history.
Kerr said that while the Warriors and Mavericks “will play the game tonight,” he asked “every single person here” and “every single person listening…to think of 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 a strong advocate for social issues. His father Malcolm H. Kerr was shot dead in 1984 by two extremists at the American University of Beirut, where he served as university president.
“We can’t just sit here and just read about it and go, well, let’s have a moment of silence. Come on Dubs. Come on 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% of Americans, regardless of political party, want background checks? … We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put (HR8) to the vote, despite what us Americans They won’t vote because they want to keep their power It’s pathetic I’ve had enough.
Stephen Curry reposted Kerr’s speech on Twitter, in 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 keep his cool. “We send our condolences to our fellow Texans and will hold them in our hearts. We are truly playing with heavy hearts tonight for the school at Robb Elementary School.”
Kidd said the aftermath of the school mass shooting was “bigger than basketball.”
“As coaches and fathers, we have kids… You just think what can happen with any of your parents 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 called off…but the news of what’s happening, not just here in Texas but across our country, is sad. “
NBA stars from Lebron James to Chris Paul also reacted to the shooting.
The San Antonio Spurs, located approximately 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 affected by the horrific shooting today”.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of lost and injured loved ones at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX! Like when it’s enough man! They’re kids and we keep putting them at risk at school. Like seriously “AT SCHOOL” where it’s supposed to be the safest!” James tweeted.
He added: “There just has to be change! MUST BE!!.. Pray heaven above all with children these days in schools.”
Jayson Tatum tweeted: “This news breaks my heart, no parent should ever have to lose their child. Praying for the families of these children and the teacher…it’s devastating.”
“Absolutely tragic,” Paul tweeted. “We need to do better as a country!! My family and I send prayers to affected families today at Robb Elementary
The Houston Astros also sent their condolences.
“The Astros are heartbroken by today’s tragedy in our state. We mourn 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.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Steve Kerr delivers impassioned speech after fatal Texas school shooting