In the middle of his post-practice shooting routine, Stephen Curry stopped as a familiar face approached him to say hello.
Warriors legend Al Attles had made a rare appearance at the Rakuten Performance Center on Saturday, after Golden State concluded its morning practice. Attles, 82, has recently battled through a slew of health issues, making the drop-in that much more meaningful.
“It was great to see Al,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We haven’t seen him in a while. We know he’s struggled with his health… It’s great to see his face here at the facility.”
Before Saturday, Attles, who was drafted fifth overall in the 1960 NBA Draft by the then Philadelphia Warriors, hadn’t been at the team’s facility in over four years.
Over the course of the last four months he’s undergone as many surgeries to address an array of health issues. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, these ailments included diverticulitis, a urinary tract infection and the removal of a cancerous mass.
According to Kerr, Attles was one of the first few people he consulted after accepting the job as Golden State’s head coach in 2014.
“He gave me advice and he’s seen and done it all as a player and as a coach,” Kerr said. “He was very helpful that first year.”
Attles played for Golden State from 1960-1971 as a player. Attles was also named head coach of the 1970 team midway through the season, making him the Warriors’ first and only player-coach.
After retiring as a player in 1971, Attles coached the Warriors for 12 more seasons, including the 1975 championship team, which earned the organization’s first title since moving from Philadelphia in 1962.
With his championship pedigree, Kerr also brought Attles in during his first year as a head coach to talk to the team.
“One of the first things I did when I was a head coach was I brought Al to visit with our team along with Tom Meschery and Nate Thurmond,” Kerr said. “Al, obviously, is the guy who connects all of the dots … Everybody on our team is fond of Al.”
By visiting with that 2014-15 team, who went on to win the Warriors’ first NBA championship in 40 years, Attles was able educate them about Golden State’s rich and colorful history in the league.
“We’ve tried to remind them of the history here and our players have done a great job of creating history of their own,” Kerr said. “You see the photos on the wall and we’re very proud of our heritage.”
While Attles hasn’t been present often either at Rakuten or Oracle Arena of the last few seasons, due to what the team has called “age related” health concerns, they hope to have Attles at Game 3 of the NBA Finals on June 5.