Steve Kerr

Is anybody listening? Steve Kerr and the sports world louder than our leaders

Is anybody listening? Steve Kerr and the sports world louder than our leaders

Steve Kerr is hurt and disillusioned and angry. He is completely fed up with government inertia in the face of epidemic gun violence that frequently manifests itself in mass shootings such as that which occurred Wednesday in Florida.

The Warriors coach is on this subject among the broadening chorus of voices, every one of them existing in a vacuum.

Everybody hears it, every time, but those within power structure never listen, for if they truly did they would take responsible preventive action.

In the wake of this latest tragedy it was evident Kerr, even as he prepared to coach the Warriors against the Trail Blazers in Portland, was particularly shaken.

His visage wore the news of another unhinged soul shooting up a school. At least 17 are dead, the vast majority of them students at Majory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. And the casualty count is likely to rise.

“Nothing has been done,” Kerr said with visible contempt. “It doesn’t seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death, day after day, in schools. It doesn’t matter that people are being shot at a concert, at a movie theater. It’s not enough, apparently, to move our leadership, our government, the people who are running this country, to actually do anything. And that’s demoralizing.

“But we can do something about it. We can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect people’s lives and not just bow down to the NRA because they’ve financed their campaign.”

Yes, he went there. Kerr urged American voters to seek out and support political candidates independent of the powerful National Rifle Association and, therefore, willing to generate momentum toward enacting responsible gun laws.

He barely bothered to address the current government, opting instead to plead with the voting public. Is anybody listening?

Anybody?

There is every indication that voices such as that of Kerr will not be silenced. He spoke passionately and from personal experience. His life was touched by gun violence in the most extreme fashion when his father, Malcolm, an educator, was assassinated at a school in Beirut 34 years ago last month.

Kerr is not alone in this quest for action. Many others joined in.

Former player Steve Nash, a Warriors consultant bound for the Hall of Fame, expressed his feelings on Twitter: “The rest of the world is having success prohibiting access to guns. I don’t see what the debate is about. It’s not working here. People are dying at alarming rates. If you value guns more than life and safety I don’t understand.”

Jared Dudley, a member of the Phoenix Suns and one of more respected veterans in the NBA, spoke up via Twitter: “So sad man! Gotta change theses Gun laws! I’m tired of the slogan guns don’t kill people only people kill people.. Change the Law!”

Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell kept his message to six words, printing “End gun violence” on his right shoe and “Pray for Parkland” on his left.

Mitchell’s mother is a teacher.

Here’s Tom Garfinkel, CEO of the Miami Dolphins: “How do we stop this? When will there be proactive change from our government leaders to address the complexity of why this keeps happening? Praying for those affected in Parkland. And Orlando, and Columbine, and Sandy Hook, and every other senseless and tragic shooting.”

And former NFL player Damien Woody: “I’m just over here thinking about how we as a society use the term ‘pro life’ . . . days like today doesn’t do it justice.”

And Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, quote tweeting the obligatory “prayers and condolences” tweet from President Trump: “Yea.. but the fact is that they AREN’T safe. Just more rhetoric and no action. WAKEUP!!!!”

Is anybody listening?

Anybody?

Wednesday was the 45th day of this calendar year -- and the 18th school shooting. Quick math tells us that equals two every five days, 10 every 25 and 20 every 50.

Many children of color grow up with violence. Studies have proved that the experience traumatizes them to varying degrees. There are neighborhoods all across these United States in which children are as afraid of law enforcement as they are of street gangs. It’s how they grow up.

The powerlessness and apprehension is growing each day. And each time our elected leaders choose to look the other way while holding open their duffle bags to accept NRA cash, the sense of despair gets deeper.

How many children will go to school today and tomorrow and all the days after that feeling anxieties they should not have to bear in a so-called civilized society?

They’ll be looking over their shoulders. They’ll be wondering about the student whose temper is a bit too quick and hot. They’ll be trying to avoid the student who is too much of a loner or makes threats. They’ll be wary of the bully and the bullied. They’ll be trying to escape those that pose with firearms on social media.

The despair is real, and if you look into the eyes of the young you can feel it.

“Hopefully, we’ll find enough people first of all to vote good put people in,” Kerr said. “But, hopefully, we can find enough people with courage to actually help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues, not building some stupid wall for billions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety, but actually protecting us from what truly is dangerous, which is maniacs with semiautomatic weapons just slaughtering our children. It’s disgusting.”

Kerr is among those willing to speak up and advocate for change. There are others. And they will be joined by many more who will make it their mission to follow the example of most every civilized society.

If the horrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, a single day, could persuade our government to take steps to make air travel safer, how many deadly events does it take to grow the principle and power to say no to the NRA and yes to the safety of children?

Is anybody listening?

Steve Kerr calls out government in powerful message after Florida shooting

Steve Kerr calls out government in powerful message after Florida shooting

It's only February and another incredibly sad and scary shooting has taken place in the United States of America.

On Wednesday, at least 17 people were killed in a massive shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Before the Warriors game against the Trail Blazers in Portland, head coach Steve Kerr was asked about his thoughts on the shooting. 

"Nothing has been done," Kerr said to reporters. "It doesn't seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death day after day at schools. It doesn't matter that people are being shot at a concert, at a movie theater. It's not enough apparently to move our leadership, our government, the people who are running this country to actually do anything. That's demoralizing. 

"But we can do something about it. We can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect peoples' lives and not just bow down to the NRA because they financed their campaign for them. So, hopefully we'll find enough people first of all to vote good people in, but hopefully we can find enough people with courage to help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues, not build some wall for billions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety, but actually protecting us from what truly is dangerous, which is maniacs with semi-automatic weapons and just slaughtering our children. It's disgusting." 

Kerr has to figure out what form his next set of jumper cables will take

kerr-steph-perplexed.jpg
AP

Kerr has to figure out what form his next set of jumper cables will take

The Great Player Empowerment Debate has come and gone, the National Basketball Association stands as before, and Steve Kerr is again slightly irked that a relatively harmless idea to fix that dent in his own team has become everyone else’s cry of disrespectful injustice.

Indeed, rarely has anyone felt so sorry for the Phoenix Suns since they lost that coin flip 48 years ago and ended with Neal Walk instead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

But the underlying oh-crap moment in Kerr’s decision to let his players run practices and timeouts before the 46-point win over the Suns is actually just one more acknowledgement that the regular season can be a tedium-fest, even for the elite.

The Warriors have been less lasered-in this year. They have been less defensively mindful, and they have tried to overadorn passes in search of the adrenalin fix that used to sustain them so easily two and three years ago. It is mid-February, and they have set such a high bar of stimulus, and to be fair such a high self-image, that they find playing to their standard is often an exercise in overexertion.

They’re bored, pure and simple.

The playoffs are still too far away to be real. The excitement of wondering if they will open with Denver or Utah or the Los Angeles Clippers or New Orleans isn’t that exciting yet. Listening to that 45th lecture about focus is becoming the equivalent of listening to sad-trombone.

Kerr knows it. The players know it. They get along fine, and nobody is spoiling for Kerr to be replaced by Tom Thibodeau, but messaging loses some of its power after 366 games and 1,205 days, give or take the odd golf outing.

Indeed, all the messaging around the league is that the regular season as a whole is about combating boredom. Some teams (at least eight this year) indeed regard the regular season as a loss leader in search of that magical draft pick that usually never comes. Teams rest players and hide behind “sore right ring toe” as an explanation to keep the network mall cops at bay. Cleveland was performing a ritual self-immolation until Koby Altman dynamited the roster, an act of electroshock therapy unheard of in midseason. The Los Angeles Lakers are playing for 2019 even though 2018 is only 45 days old, and LaVar Ball is not disruptive enough to get anyone’s notice any more.

Everywhere, the message is the regular season is a month longer than it needs to be, and there is no cure for this mass ennui but time. Kerr played a card to energize his veterans for an evening, and it worked -- although the evidence suggests that they could have beaten the Suns by 46 even without the new time-out structure.

Only mid-March will make this problem go away, because by then title aspirants will start prepping for the time when the games matter a lot, mid-level teams will battle for the remaining 10 playoff spots, and everyone else will be doing mock drafts. They’ll have things to amuse them.

In the meantime, though, Adam Silver rises each day knowing that the solution to all this regular season disrespect (since that is what the Warrior-Suns game actually was) is eliminating February entirely – and no amount of network money can do that.

In the meantime, Steve Kerr has to figure out what form his next set of jumper cables will take – getting kicked out of a game during the National Anthem? Sitting in the stands? Sitting on the other team’s bench? Promoting JaVale McGee to assistant general manager and letting him work the buyout market? Don’t miss our next exciting episode, “The Burden Of Trying To Look Engaged,” or “Brooklyn on March 6.”