Since Steve Kerr was hired by Golden State before the 2015 season, he has coached his team to an astonishing regular season record of 207 wins and 39 losses (.841 winning percentage). His Playoff record has been equally impressive… 35 wins and 14 losses (.714 winning percentage) with one world championship trophy in 2015.
What is behind his tremendous success are multiple factors including a front office who have developed a culture of winning with a support infrastructure up and down the organization. The Golden State Warriors are a business whose employees are all part of the Strength in Numbers family. From owners Joseph Lacob and Peter Gruber to COO Rick Welts to GM Bob Myers to Coach Steve Kerr, the team has been built with the foundation of truly unselfish team players… Great players who are in the business for individual success and stats are quickly ruled out.
It is one thing to put a great roster together. It takes a special coach to get the roster to play together as a team on a consistent basis. Steve has done this and continues to spread his teachings through his assistant coaches. Before the 2016 season, he had a back surgery and suffered major complications including leaked spinal fluids which has caused Steve to suffer debilitating neck pains and migrane headaches. He missed the first 43 games of the 2016 season due to the pain he suffered. Because he had set the foundation of his coaching philosophy, his assistant, Luke Walton, took over head coaching duties during Steve’s absence and lead the team to an astounding 39-4 record winning the first 24 games of the season. Unfortunately, these symptoms have flared up again and Steve was not able to coach the last two games of the first round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers. As Luke Walton left the team last year to coach the LA Lakers, the Warriors hired Mike Brown who has had a brilliant NBA coaching career including being named coach of the year in the 2008-2009 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mike coached the last two games while Steve was out and won both games in Portland to close out the series by winning in a 4-0 sweep. And, of course, Mike’s coaching philosophy is very similar to Steve’s.
Steve’s coaching style is not limited to spreading his philosophy to his assistant coaches. It applies equally to his players. A case in point is when one of their stars, Kevin Durant, went down with a knee injury in late February. The Warriors went 7-5 while adjusting to playing without KD. But, when they adjusted, the Warriors won 15 of the last 16 games of the season and won the first 3 games of the Portland playoff series without Durant. They also played without two other key players, Matt Barnes and Shawn Livingston during the Portland series but still swept them.
One of Steve’s wonderful traits is his ability to relate to his players as both a friend and a father figure. He is tough when he needs to be and isn’t afraid to yell at his star players including Steph Curry or Draymond Green in a team setting. He has broken more than one clip-board on the sidelines when the Warriors get careless with the ball or their defensive play is below his standard. Other than these tense situations, Steve instills a sense of “fun” in the locker room, on the court, and off the court. He praises his players both as athletes and as wonderful people off the courts.
As a diplomat, Steve excels. He has been surrounded by Hall of Fame coaches throughout his entire basketball career from Lute Olson at the University of Arizona, to Phil Jackson in Chicago, and to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. When Steve’s father, Malcom Kerr was assassinated in Beirut, Lebanon in 1984, Lute Olson and his wife took Steve into their home to provide comfort and support. Malcom was serving as the President of the American University of Beirut at the time of his death and was a victim of a terrorist action. This tragedy in Steve’s life has lead to the formation of Steve’s views on world unrest and other political issues. Phil Jackson taught him how to win and Popovich taught him the meaning of team play. What life has taught Steve is that no matter the circumstance, deal with it diplomatically. He can’t play all of his players and give them the minutes that they want, so he is very upfront about where every player stands. Each player knows his role on the team. He is complimentary of all players and coaches in the league because he realizes that they are all in the pool of players and coaches that he may work with in the future. He jokes and laughs with the referees during the games and gets T’d up by them when he disagrees with their calls. Steve is always cordial with the press as this is a highly visible sport and he wants to portray the classiness of this organization.
Steve is the Man. He is respected by his players, his organization, his peers, and other players throughout the league. After the Warriors won Game 3 of the Portland series which Steve couldn’t coach due to his migrane illness, Steph Curry clung tightly to the game ball while being interviewed as he wanted to present Steve with the game ball.
In a very classy move, LeBron James broadcasted a video expressing concern over Steve’s health and wished him the very best to recover quickly and get back on the sidelines.
Steve Kerr is a great coach but more importantly, he is a very classy guy and loved by everyone. Wishing Steve all the best and hope that he does conquer the pain that he has had to endure for the last two years!!!