Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr refused to talk about basketball before Tuesday night’s playoff game, instead dedicating a news conference to condemning politicians’ inaction on gun laws in wake of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 21 people.
“I’m not going to talk about basketball. Nothing’s happened with our team in the last six hours…any basketball questions don’t matter,” Kerr told reporters at the pre-game press conference.
“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,” he said. “And now we have children murdered at school.”
Raising his voice and pounding on the table in front of him, he demanded, “When are we going to do something?”
“I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there,” he went on, his voice breaking. “I am so tired of the excuses. I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough!”
Kerr condemned “50 senators” — referring to Republicans — who refuse to hold a vote on gun legislation, and cited HR 8, a bill that would expand background checks that has already passed the House.
“There’s a reason they won’t vote on it — to hold onto power,” he said.
Kerr singled out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) in his impassioned plea:
I ask you, Mitch McConnell, I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and 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, and our elderly, and our churchgoers? Because that’s what it looks like.
The coach, who won two NBA championships with the nearby San Antonio Spurs as a player two decades ago, implored those listening to think of their own family members. “How would you feel if this happened to you today?” he asked.
“We can’t get numb to this,” he added.
Kerr, who has spoken out about gun violence before, got visibly choked up during his commentary. Notably, his father was shot and killed in Beirut in 1984, when Kerr was a teenager.
At least 19 children and two adults were killed by the shooter in Uvalde late Tuesday morning. Some parents in the community had to wait several hours into the evening to find out whether their children were among those injured or killed.
The shooter also reportedly shot his grandmother prior to the massacre at Robb Elementary School.
The event marks the 30th shooting at a K-12 school in the U.S. this year alone.