OAKLAND – Warriors coach Steve Kerr walked into his pregame news conference Saturday afternoon, and before a question could be asked, reached out to the victims and families affected by the deadly Oakland fire.
“I want to start out today and offer our condolences to the victims of the Oakland fire,” Kerr said. “It’s just a devastating tragedy right here in the East Bay. It’s hard to comprehend. As an organization, we want to send our thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families, their friends and people who were injured.
“I don’t know if it means a whole lot – I should say I know it can’t cure the pain – but we’re thinking of you and the whole organization, the team and everybody here at Oracle tonight, when we have a moment of silence. We’re all with you out there, and we’re all devastated today.”
The fire occurred in a warehouse in the Fruitvale district, a couple miles from Oracle Arena. Early reports indicated at least nine fatalities, with as many as several dozen more still possible.
The Warriors not only had a moment of silence before the game against the Phoenix Suns, but also pledged a donation of $50,000 to support those affected by the fire.
“When a tragedy of this magnitude hits this close to home, we feel it’s imperative to do our small part to help our community and those impacted,” said team president and COO Rick Welts. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends during this incredibly difficult time.”
OAKLAND – Having stirred widespread discussion after his comments Friday regarding his use of marijuana to treat chronic pain, Warriors coach Steve Kerr took a few minutes Saturday to expand on the subject.
“It was interesting, because the way the world works and the way the media works now, what is a very serious discussion about pain relief turns into the headline: ‘Kerr smokes pot,’ “ Kerr said during his news conference before the Suns-Warriors game at Oracle Arena. “I guess that’s the world we live in. That’s fine.
“But I’m actually kind of glad that it became an issue because I think it’s a very important issue to talk about.”
The overriding issue, Kerr said, is that dangerous prescription painkillers are more widely accepted than marijuana, despite research to the contrary.
“I do find it ironic that had I said that I’ve used OxyContin for relief from my back pain, it would not have been a headline,” he said. “So that’s all. I just urge people to do your research before you start taking the stuff that we’re all encouraged to take.”
Kerr’s initial comments were made Friday in response to a question on The Warriors Insider Podcast. Asked if he could visualize a time when marijuana would be accepted, much as alcohol or prescription drugs, he said he hoped so and added that he had experimented with it in hopes of alleviating his pain.
“I’m disappointed it didn’t work,” he said Saturday. “I really wanted some relief and I didn’t get it.”
With 26 states having voted in laws allowing use of marijuana, the stigma continues to shrink. That’s not true, not yet, of sports leagues, which will follow the research and better understand and apply and findings.
“Having gone through a tough spell over the last year with my own recovery from back surgery, a lot of pain, a lot of chronic pain, I had to do a lot of research,” he said. “You get handed prescriptions for Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet . . . NFL players, that’s what they’re given. That stuff is awful. That stuff is dangerous, the addiction possibility, what it can lead to, the long-term health risks. The issue that’s really important is how do we do what’s best for the players.
“But I understand that it’s a perception issue around the country,” he added. “The NFL, the NBA, it’s a business. So you don’t want your customers thinking, ‘These guys are a bunch of potheads.’ That’s what it is.
“But to me, it’s only a matter of time before medicinal marijuana is allowed in sports leagues because the education will overwhelm the perception. If you do any research at all, the stuff they’re prescribing is really bad for you and the stuff that they’re banning is fine."
Kerr stressed that he was not advocating for recreational use of marijuana but urging consideration for medicinal use where it applies.