Once again, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr spoke hard truths in the aftermath of the shooting of 19 children and two adults in Texas. As one of the best coaches of his generation heading up one of the best teams, he’s used his platform to speak out against societal ills that impact all of us. He brought it all into perspective during his post-practice press conference before a playoff game with the Dallas Mavericks.
He slammed his hand against the podium table multiple times when he asked: “When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m tired of the moments of silence.”
He named Mitch McConnell and called out other senators who put their “own self-interests in maintaining power” in Congress over the needs of a society it is tasked with serving. Kerr said that 90% of Americans favor background checks required in the HR8 bill that the House of Representatives passed in 2019, but it stalled in the Senate. Kerr also cited other recent acts of violence involving Blacks in a Buffalo grocery store and Asians worshipping in a church in southern California as more evidence of the need for change.
“We can’t get numb to this,” Kerr said before abruptly leaving. “We can’t sit here and just read about it and go, ‘Well, let’s have a moment of silence. Yeah, go dubs. Come on, Mavs, let’s go.’ That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go play a basketball game.”
Many remember Kerr as a sharpshooter on the Chicago Bulls during the team’s second threepeat. What is less well known is that his father, a professor and President of the American University of Beirut, was assassinated outside his office. Kerr was born in Lebanon. His father was raised there, and he died there in 1983 when his son was 18.
Kerr is a coach willing to forcefully weigh in on topics most others in the spotlight avoid or offer grey platitudes. Like Kerr, many athletes come from communities here in the U.S. and worldwide that are marred by lack of opportunity, violence, and death.
Cynics may call for athletes and coaches to stick to playing sports and leave politics to the professionals. After all, sports are supposed to be a diversion. Athletes are often molded by a complicated mix of circumstance, race and religion. Their life lessons likely came from communities where danger and violence are commonplace, and not from in a college classroom or even on a basketball court. So, Kerr and others like him are entitled to speak of loss first-hand and the need for those losses to end.