There never is for Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
But when an unspeakable, unthinkable, unconscionable tragedy happens, it takes precedence.
And has Kerr said prior to Tuesday’s NBA playoff game between the Warriors and Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals, basketball doesn’t matter.
The Warriors, up 3-0, could clinch at trip to the finals with a victory in Game 4.
But that was far from Kerr’s mind.
Not now. Not today.
Not after an 18-year old gunman, trying to escape police in Uvalde, ran into an elementary school and killed 18 children. Three adults were also killed, including the shooter’s grandmother. And he was killed by police.
Our children are not safe at school.
American citizens are not safe living their lives whether it’s going to church or to the grocery store.
And Kerr has had enough.
“When are we going to do something?” an angry and exasperated Kerry said rhetorically. “I’m tired. 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 the moments of silence. Enough.
“So I’m fed up. I’ve had enough. We’re going to play the game tonight. But I want every person here, every person listening to this, to think about your own child or grandchild, mother or father, sister, brother. How would you feel if this happened to you today?”
In the last 10 days, 31 people have been shot dead by domestic terrorists at a Buffalo grocery store, a California church and a Texas elementary school. 31 in 10 days, at places where people shop for food, pray in groups and seek education.
Mavs coach Jason Kidd read a statement before the game: “I’d like to say that our hearts go out to the victims and family of the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas. We send our condolences to our fellow Texans and we’ll keep them in our hearts. We truly will play with heavy hearts tonight for the community, for the school of Robb Elementary School.Tough.”
Kidd said he saw the news when he got the arena and said it was going to be tough to play under those circumstances.
But the season was on the line and they simply had to find a way.
“I don’t what else to say,” Kidd said. “You know, as coaches or fathers, we have kids. People in this room have kids. Elementary school. You just think about what could take place with any of your family or friends at a school.This is on-the-run job training.
“We’re going to try to play the game. We have no choice. The game is not going to be canceled. But we have to find a way to be pro, find a way to win, and move forward. But the news of what’s happening, not just here in Texas but throughout our country, is sad.”
It’s personal for Kerr as it should be for all us.
But he knows the horrors of gun violence on a familial level.
His dad, Malcolm Kerr, was the president of American University in Beirut in 1984 when accosted by gunmen and assassinated on campus.
So it’s an issue that he has lived with since he was a child and it’s one that is close to his heart.
And his heart sunk once again Tuesday.
“I’m not going to talk about basketball,” Kerr said before the game. “Nothing’s happened with our team in the last six hours. Any basketball questions don’t matter. Since we left shoot around, 14 children were killed 400 miles from here, 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.”
The Mavs paid respect to the victims of the Uvalde school shooting as well as Palestine Junior High School coach and teacher Michael Coyne. He attended Game 3 Sunday night when he and 2 passengers were hit by a car. He was killed.
The death toll from Uvalde rose since Kerr’s angry and emotional pregame press conference.
And so should the volume of his message, as he challenged U.S. senators to do something about the gun violence with laws to strengthen background checks.
He made it political and called out names.
Turn it up.
“There’s 50 senators right now who refuse to vote on HR8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple years ago,” Kerr said. “It’s been sitting there for two years. There’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold onto power. I ask you, Mitch McConnell, all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, school shootings, supermarket shootings.
“I ask you: Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers? Because that’s what it looks like. That’s what we do every week.
“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. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go play a basketball game.”
This story was originally published May 24, 2022 8:13 PM.