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Following a moment of silence before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat urged fans to contact their state senators and “head to the ballot box” to advocate for gun law reform in the wake of the Texas school shooting.
“The Heat organization, the Boston Celtics, and NBA family also mourn those who lost their lives in the senseless shooting that took place yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, and friends, and the entire Robb Elementary School and Uvalde community,” the PA announcer at FTX Arena said.
“Our hope is that the family, friends, coworkers and loved ones of all those impacted by this tragedy will find the comfort and strength they need as they carry on in honor of those whose lives were lost.”
As both teams stood silent on the court with their heads down, fans broke out in cheers after the announcement continued in urging them to contact lawmakers.
TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING: LEBRON JAMES, NBA COACH STEVE KERR, SPORTS COMMUNITY CALL FOR CHANGE AMID TRAGEDY
“The Heat urges you to contact your state’s senators by calling 202-224-3121 to leave a message demanding their support for commonsense gun laws. You can also make change at the ballot box. Visit heat.com/vote to register and let your voice be heard this fall.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took to social media after the game to call out the NBA for what he said was “politicizing a horrific tragedy in America” while remaining silent on China’s human rights violations.
“The NBA doesn’t like to talk about the billions they make from a China that enslaves Uyghur Muslims and harvests their organs,” his tweet read, “But they have no problem politicizing a horrific tragedy in America.”
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The firestorm around NBA’s relationship with China began when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong protesters. The tweet kicked off controversy to start the 2019-20 season with China pulling ads showcasing preseason NBA games in the country. Tencent, the digital media partner of the NBA in China since 2009, also put a halt to showing NBA games for a period of time.
In July 2020, the league was in the midst of another controversy over its relationship with a basketball academy in Xinjiang, China. The camp was criticized due to its proximity to camps where the Chinese government has detained around a million Uyghur Muslims. Prisoners there said they have been brainwashed and tortured.
“Since [the] NBA [and] Miami Heat is so committed to social justice and has pledged to ‘speak the truth’ when can we expect you to condemn the genocide of Uyghur Muslims being committed by your business partners in China,” Rubio said in a subsequent tweet.
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Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr also called out lawmakers on Tuesday in a passionate speech before Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals where he called on politicians to “do something.”
“I’m tired. I am so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I am so tired of the, excuse, I am sorry, I am tired of the moments of silence. Enough!”
At least 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed Tuesday morning when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Officials said the suspect was shot and killed on the scene.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.