The Unsung Hero of The Warriors’ Dynasty

Stop me if you have heard this sentence before: The Golden State Warriors are in the NBA Finals. After a brief three year hiatus, the Dubs are back in the limelight. Stephen Curry is back to his All Star self, Klay Thompson has returned to being an elite defender as well as scorer, and Draymond Green is anchoring the defense. In addition to their key three players, Andrew Wiggins has had a breakout season that earned him his first All Star Game selection, and Jordan Poole has turned into a reliable scoring option. However, one man has gone virtually unnoticed in the media. He is the engine of the Warriors, their heart, their soul. Without him, there would be no dynasty. It’s time to show Steve Kerr the love he deserves.

Building A Culture:

Every NBA organization has big goals for their franchise. Win a championship, find their franchise superstar, connect with the fans, etc. But what fuels a team’s perennial success is building the right culture. Steve Kerr has been the most important factor when it comes to the culture in the Warriors’ organization.

Every player who has played under Kerr says that he has mastered the ability to give players enough rope to boost their confidence, but still commands respect from everyone in the clubhouse. “What makes Coach Kerr a great coach is the way he trusts in his players. He gives us a lot of confidence - from the first guy to the fifteenth guy.” Ian Clark said that when Kerr won Coach of The Year in the 2015-16 season. Kerr seems to have his finger on the pulse of every player, which allows him to know how to push them to be the best version of themselves.

There is one particular story that seems to illustrate Kerr’s coaching strategy perfectly. In the middle of their historic 73-9 season, the players for the Warriors seemed worn down. Even though they were dominating the competition, their spark was clearly waning. Some coaches

would push the players even harder in practice. Others would simply let the problem work itself out. Kerr decided that what his team needed was a day of good old-fashioned bowling. The team rented out the entire alley to themselves, and spent the day away from the court. The move is widely regarded as a stroke of genius by Kerr. However, this story is representative of something Kerr has that can’t be taught to other coaches- humanity.

Knowledge of The Game:

Every coach in the NBA has forgotten more about basketball than any of us will ever know. With that being said, Steve Kerr’s basketball knowledge seems to be a cut above the rest. It helps that when as a player, not only did he win five championships, but he played under the likes of Phil Jackson and Greg Poppovich. But over the course of his tenure with Golden State, Kerr’s knowledge of the game and his adaptability has been self-evident.

When Kerr first started for Golden State, his offensive schemes seemed to be a mix of both Jackson and Poppovich’s systems. He placed great importance on keeping the ball moving, and not limiting the offense to just relying on Curry’s immense offensive talent. This new system enabled Klay Thompson to breakout in the 2014 season and emerge as one of the game’s best two-way guards. Kerr’s new approach on offense transformed the Warriors into an offensive juggernaut, and allowed every single person on the team to flourish.

Then in 2016, the Dubs made one of the biggest signings in recent history when Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City and went to The Bay. Durant’s arrival presented an interesting challenge for Steve Kerr. Forget the locker room challenges that Durant could pose, Kerr had to re-work the offense to accommodate two MVP-caliber players. But if there was ever a coach who could not only make the offense work, but ensure that both of his superstars were happy, it was Kerr. In Durant’s first year, the Dubs led the league in points per game, field goal percentage, and Durant was the most efficient shooting the ball he had been in his entire career. Need more proof of how good Kerr is at creating an offense? Just look at how Durant has fared with the Nets.

Final Thoughts:

Even if the Warriors lose their series against the Celtics, their status as a dynasty has already been cemented. Six finals appearances and a potential four rings will do that. But Golden State has established themselves as the gold standard across the league not just when it comes to success on the court, but success off of it. And while much of the Dubs’ success has to do with the play of Stephen Curry, there would be no dynasty without Steve Kerr at the helm.