Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone broke down in tears during his pregame media session Tuesday after reading the names of the 10 victims of Monday’s shooting massacre in Boulder, Colorado.
Malone, speaking before the Nuggets played the Orlando Magic, opened his session by shifting the focus off of basketball and toward the latest mass shooting in the United States, which took place in the Nuggets’ home state.
“Obviously, I think we are all tired of it,” Malone said of how he and his team processed the latest shooting in Colorado. “That’s an understatement. I know for me, you get so caught up in the job and basketball and …”
“You know, we get judged on wins and losses. … I apologize,” added Malone, fighting back tears. “But if you take a step back and put yourself in one of those families, what do you feel?”
Malone read off the names of the 10 men and women who were shot and killed on Monday — Denny Stong, Neven Stanisic, Rikki Olds, Tralona Bartkowiak, Suzanne Fountain, Teri Leiker, Kevin Mahoney, Lynn Murray, Jody Waters and Eric Talley. Malone choked up when he read off the name of Talley, a Boulder police officer, who was a father of seven.
This is not the first time Malone has spoken to reporters about a shooting in Colorado. Before Game 5 against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round of the NBA Western Conference semifinals in May 2019, he pleaded for something to change after a school shooting left one student dead at a Highlands Ranch public charter school in his suburban Denver community.
Malone’s two daughters, then in middle school and attending a different school, experienced a lockdown that day at their school. At that time, it was the second lockdown in the span of three weeks due to a shooting threat.
“This is a game, the game I love, I have a passion for,” Malone said choking up. “But I think about Eric Talley and his seven kids. … That is what I think about. I’m just heartbroken for them and everybody else. And hopefully we as a country, we as a state, can find a way to be better. I apologize for my emotions.”
Since the Columbine High shooting in 1999, Colorado has had several fatal shootings that have made national headlines.
“Seems like we have been here,” Malone said at the start of his media session. “I think it is really important that we turn our attention where it should be, and that is back in Boulder. Yesterday was another tragedy. Hopefully that is something that we can find a way to prevent from happening in the future.
“I think I speak for everyone on our team, our travel party, that our thoughts and prayers — which is never enough — but our thoughts and prayers are definitely with the Boulder community and all the families of the 10 innocent people who were murdered yesterday.”
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr also opened his pregame news conference Tuesday by speaking about the Boulder massacre as well as last week’s Atlanta-area shootings that left eight people dead, most of them women of Asian descent.
Kerr addressed reporters while seated in front of a screen that listed the names of the victims.
“Before we start, you notice the names behind me on the screen there,” Kerr said before Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers. “They are names of the victims in both Atlanta and Denver over the last two weeks in the mass shootings that we have suffered. I think it’s first of all important to reference their names. These are human beings. These are people who have been lost, and the thought of the mothers and fathers and sisters, brothers, daughters and sons who are grieving right now with the loss of the people behind me is just devastating, particularly in the wake of what is just a common occurrence in our country and an inability of our representatives and government of doing anything about it.
“I am just sort of at a loss for words at this point. We can’t just sit here and accept that we’re going to allow our fellow citizens to just mow each other down with weapons of war. It’s the most disgusting thing that exists within our country. It’s ridiculous. It’s disgusting. It’s devastating. There are so many people out there who are suffering, we have to do something about it.”
ESPN’s Nick Friedell contributed to this report.