The tone is imploring and vindictive at the same time. “When are we going to do something?” Misty eyes, clenched jaw and tight throat, Steve Kerr repeatedly bangs his fist on the table. And warns, “I’m not going to talk about basketball. All basketball matters don’t matter tonight. Steve Kerr is however a basketball coach and his team, the San Francisco Golden State Warriors, one of the flagship franchises of the NBA, the North American league, was preparing, Tuesday, May 24, to face the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth game of the conference finals in the Texas city. But the news of the day forced the technician to move away from the field.
At least 19 children, between the ages of 7 and 10, as well as two adults, were killed on Tuesday in the Texas town of Uvalde. Yet another massacre perpetrated in an elementary school by a barely legal teenager. “Since we left the training session, 14 children have been killed 600 km from here, and a teacher [the death toll has since increased], reacted hot Steve Kerr. In the past ten days, black seniors have been killed in a supermarket in Buffalo, Asian worshipers have been killed in Southern California, and now children have been killed at school…”
The features marked, the American coach confessed his “tiredness of [se] appearing in front of [the press] to present [his] condolences to the destroyed families”. Before lashing out at US senators refusing to legislate despite the litany of shootings: “90% of Americans, regardless of their political orientation, want [gun control]. We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to put this measure to a vote. »
Looping on television channels and social networks, this vibrant plea for the regulation of firearms resonates in the United States, once again bruised by a shooting in a school. Because Steve Kerr has the voice that carries. At 56, the man who won three NBA titles as a player with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs, as well as three titles as a Warriors coach, is accustomed to speaking out on social issues. .
His father died in an attack in Lebanon
He is all the more sensitive to the issue of shootings, as his father, president of the American University of Beirut, was assassinated by Islamist terrorists in Lebanon in 1984. Appointed in December 2021 as coach of Team USA, the team American men’s basketball player, Steve Kerr succeeded Gregg Popovich, coach of the Spurs (and Frenchman Tony Parker throughout his career). The Californian coach, player, then assistant to Gregg Popovich, not only followed in his Texan mentor’s footsteps on the court, he also, off the field, followed the latter’s example, never the last to engage in social issues.
“[Popovich] uses his position to make his voice heard about injustice, racism, police brutality and the rest of the evils that afflict American society, greeted in March the former NBA player Ethan Thomas in an op-ed at the Guardian. . As a white man, especially in Texas, it takes a lot of courage and commands respect. »
Steve Kerr, who did not hesitate to castigate the positions of Donald Trump, then President of the United States, formed with Gregg Popovich and other NBA coaches a “committee on racial injustice and reform” in 2020, in order to collectively reflect on societal issues and consider solutions.
“He will always fight for what is right”
“Every American, regardless of party, should be sickened by what is happening in the country right now,” insisted the Warriors coach in 2016, after the death of a black man, killed by police while he returned to his vehicle with his arms in the air. At the time, the country was divided between pro and anti Colin Kaepernick, after the American football player of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the anthem before a match, to protest against police violence (he did not never found a club).
Since 2016, the world of basketball in the United States has been a breeding ground for these questions. While the NFL was struggling to take stock of the situation, the NBA has resolutely committed itself to defending minorities in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement (black lives matter), following several of its star players (such as LeBron James or Stephen Curry) and coaches, like Steve Kerr.
To whom his player Damion Lee paid tribute, in 2021: “He supports us in all areas when we try to highlight injustices and social problems, greeted the back of the Warriors. His past, and what he has been through, makes these issues close to his heart. He will always be at the forefront and he will always fight for what is right. »
In January 2021, following the assault on the Capitol by a crowd of pro-Trump convinced that the election had been stolen from them, Steve Kerr had already chosen not to talk about basketball anymore. “I started the day thinking about how to defend Lou Williams [an opposing player], and suddenly it didn’t seem so important when I turned on the TV and saw what was going on,” reported the coach at a press conference. “It was a bizarre scene, but I saw it as a clear reminder of the importance of truth. Truth is paramount in our country and around the world, and if we allow lies to spread, there are consequences. »
A committed citizen beyond his influence on the game, Steve Kerr once again spoke on Tuesday following a new tragedy linked to the unregulated circulation of firearms in his country. No doubt he hopes that his truth will help to move the lines.