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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Kerr Dynasty: Player or Coach, Warriors Boss Just Wins

BOSTON ( Associated Press) – He hit a championship-winning shot with Michael Jordan. He calls the shots for Stephen Curry.

From clutch to coach, Steve Kerr has done it all for some of basketball’s biggest winners. Any team that can claim to be a dynasty in the last 30 years of the NBA has some connection to a Golden State coach.

Now back in Boston, the victorious Warriors are one victory away from a ninth NBA championship. It used to be that you had to be a Celtic to win that much.

Kerr just has to defeat them.

If the Warriors win Game 6 on Thursday night, forget about hanging another banner in Boston. Instead, Kerr would celebrate beneath them.

If so, he would credit Curry and Klay Thompson, as he did with Jordan and Scotty Pippen, or Tim Duncan and David Robinson, as a player, when trying to explain their success.

“Just hanging around with the right people,” he said with a smile. “You hang around with superstars long enough, you’re going to have some residual success.”

There’s more to it than that, of course. Talent can take a team to the top, but being there – and then coming back again after being dropped – demands more than that. For this it is necessary to understand the personalities of the court personnel and the locker room.

That means thinking about and playing the game too, and Kerr makes do with the best of them.

“The man’s knowledge of the game is second to none,” Thompson said.

Kerr has not won like Bill Russell, Celtics Hall of Fame center who won 11 rings as a player. Nor as much as Phil Jackson, who won 11 of his own as a coach.

Yet, when it comes to combining winning as a player and as a coach, few have done it better than Kerr.

He won five titles with Chicago and San Antonio in uniform. Add three as the boss of Golden State on the bench, and he is the first person in NBA history to win at least three championships as a player and as a coach.

Throw in a couple stints as an analyst for TNT around his time as general manager of the Phoenix Suns, and Kerr has seen NBA basketball from almost every angle.

“I mean, Steve has had such an incredible, unique career from player to coach, to GM. He just knows how to piece the talent together,” Thompson said. “Then he draws from his playing days, which Really cool to hear and talk, Twin Towers in San Antonio playing with Mike and Scotty.”

Kerr was not a player like a Hall of Fame genius. A second-round pick in the 1988 draft, he started only 30 games in his career. He never averaged double digits in any of his 15 seasons, having lasted so long as a fine partner and a better shooter.

Most players aren’t superstars, and because he wasn’t, Kerr makes it a point to reach out to players like him.

Celtics guard Derrick White remembers helping Kerr get comfortable when he was promoted to the US roster for the 2019 Basketball World Cup, after originally only being a player on the team to practice against the Americans.

“Any time I needed a question or anything during that whole USA experience, he was there for me,” White said.

Kerr said: “I can definitely identify with role players as a star player, simply because I have the experience to come off the bench and try to understand the role and all that stuff.”

Being a role player doesn’t mean that Kerr didn’t have a big role.

Curry may be considered the greatest outside shooter of all time, but it is Kerr whose 45.4% career mark from 3-point range tops NBA history. He dropped the jumper to secure the Bulls’ 1997 championship, jokingly during the victory celebration in Chicago that he stepped up to take the shot. Because Jordan didn’t feel comfortable doing,

The confidence that Kerr showed on the floor is what he now displays in the huddle, a resolve that Drummond Greene says makes the Warriors feel “invincible.”

“At times we get a little nervous as a team and that’s there, the constant force, like ‘Hey, man, just calm down, just go,'” Kerr said.

No surprise. He is the same man who once got into a fight with Jordan during practice.

These Warriors were in greater need of that stability during the race for three titles in four years from 2015-18. With Thompson still recovering from injuries well into the season and then going down after returning to Curry and Green, Golden State was not in full force before the playoffs and certainly not a powerhouse of recent years.

“We had to figure out a few things on the fly,” said his coach.

Teams with Kerr usually do.


More Associated Press NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

World Nation News Desk
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