Following a recent string of mass shootings, US men’s basketball head coach Gregg Popovich is demanding American leaders ‘get off their asses’ and do something about gun control, while assistant coach Steve Kerr pointed the finger directly at the country’s ‘gutless leadership.’
Popovich, the five-time NBA champion head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, and Kerr, the three-time champion coach of the Golden State Warriors, were speaking to reporters in Las Vegas, where Team USA is practicing ahead of the FIBA World Cup in China later this month.
Over the weekend, shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio resulted in a combined 32 deaths and another 51 injuries.
‘It’d be a lot better if the people in power got off their asses and got something done … in a lot of different areas,’ Popovich told reporters Tuesday.
The 70-year-old Air Force veteran then joked: ‘I think they’re on vacation right now. They’ll come back and fix the gun situation, the environment, inequality, pay, they’ll fix all that when they come back, I’m sure.’
Kerr, whose father was shot and killed in Lebanon by a Shia militia in 1984, told the Bay Area News Group that he’s consumed with fear over automatic firearms and mass shootings.
‘I think about it all the time,’ he said. ‘Somebody could walk in the door in the gym right now and start spraying us with an AR-15. They could. It might happen because we’re all vulnerable, whether we go to a concert, a church, the mall or go to the movie theater or a school.’
Kerr went to blame politicians for hiding behind the second amendment.
‘It’s up to us as Americans to demand change from the gutless leadership that continues to allow this to happen and continues to somehow claim the second amendment is doing its job,’ he said. ‘The second amendment is about the right to defend yourself. The only thing that second amendment is doing is leading to mass murder right now. This is all just insanity.’
Kerr, who won three titles as a player with the Chicago Bulls before winning another two playing for Popovich in San Antonio, also targeted senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter for his unwillingness to take a vote on gun control.
After McConnell tweeted, ‘Sickening to learn this morning of another mass murder in Dayton,’ Kerr quickly snapped back on the social media platform.
‘But apparently not ‘sickening’ enough to actually do anything about it, huh Mitch?’ he wrote.
Kerr, 53, continued to criticize McConnell at Tuesday’s practice.
‘When you have 97% of the people in the country who want universal background checks and the Senate, not only, not won’t pass it, won’t even vote on it because Mitch McConnell won’t allow them to vote on it because the NRA has bought him off, then you got problems,’ Kerr told reporters. ‘I think that’s the issue. We have to have elected leaders who are willing to value human life over their own jobs and their contributions from the NRA.’
It’s not clear how political Team USA will be before and during the FIBA World Cup.
The US women’s soccer team was criticized for its activism while going on to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
Both Kerr and Popovich have been critical of President Donald Trump in the past, but the latter said he is mindful that the American national team represents the entire country and not just one political faction.
‘We can’t fix the divisiveness in our country,’ he told reporters. ‘But what we can do is be a great example of how people can come together for a common goal and achieve it. It’s our responsibility to not only become the best team we can be, but it’s the way we conduct ourselves with USA on our shirts. We’re representing a lot of people.’