OAKLAND — Steve Kerr will be back on the sidelines for the Golden State Warriors.
The Dubs head coach made that news available by striding to the podium for coach’s pregame availability and assuming his normal joking disposition.
“I’m excited, and it’s good to be back,” he said. “That Mike guy did OK while I was gone, so that was good.”
He was referring, of course, to Mike Brown, who ushered the Warriors to a perfect 11-0 mark with Kerr out in the playoffs.
Kerr said he made the decision Sunday morning after getting the idea he could return on Saturday. The plan is for him to coach the rest of the NBA Finals.
He hadn’t told the players on his team that he would be back by the time he’d met with reporters.
“I’ve been kind of giving them updates, but we didn’t have a shootaround this morning,” Kerr said. “I didn’t send out a group text or anything.”
He also had some fun at the expense of Brown.
“I just think the numbers are totally deceiving,” Kerr said. “You can talk like 15-0 or whatever he did, but the team was falling apart at the seams, and so I just had to get back to make sure we righted the ship.”
All jokes aside, he said he feels like he did during the regular season, when he coached all 82 games for the Warriors.
FULL VIDEO HERE:
If words are more your thing, find the full transcript below:
COACH KERR: Hi everybody. Any questions or not?
I’m not going to answer any questions about my health. I’m just going to tell you I’m coaching tonight. The intention is to coach tonight and the rest of the series. I’m feeling better. I’m feeling more like I did at the end of the regular season.
Last couple weeks have been good in terms of running practice, film sessions, coaches meetings, that kind of stuff. I wanted to string together a few good days, I did that, and feeling well enough to coach. So I’ll be out there tonight. And as I said, the intention is to go the rest of the series.
So, I’m excited and it’s good to be back. And my guy did okay while I was gone, so that was good. But as I said to you guys the other day, nothing really changes for our players, we’re doing the same stuff and strategy remains the same. We’ll keep it rolling, and hopefully we’ll keep playing well. So, if you just have some basketball questions, I’ll answer those.
Q. Was this game time decision for you? When did you decide that you would be on the bench for this game?
COACH KERR: This morning. I had an idea yesterday, but I wanted to see how I was feeling this morning.
Q. So you say you have the intention to coach the rest of the series. Are you pretty sure you’re going to coach, you’re going to be able to, or do you still kind of not know about the rest of the series?
COACH KERR: No, that’s the plan. That’s the plan.
Q. Did you make this decision thinking today, or did you make this decision saying I can coach the rest of the series?
COACH KERR: No, I thought I made that clear. I mean, the intention is tonight and the rest of the series, and that’s the whole good idea. I wouldn’t be in this if I was thinking just one game and then — no, I’m in it for the rest of the way, and that’s the intention.
Q. Did you give Mike a game, was that part of the plan, like because he shepherded the team through the Playoffs to allow him to coach Game 1 and then take over? Was that any part of it?
COACH KERR: No, no, that was — the only thing that’s been in play the whole time is just if I was going to be ready to do it, then I would do it.
Q. Were you surprised how much Kevin got through the lane and in Game 1 untouched, and what adjustments do you expect to see?
COACH KERR: Well, they obviously made some mistakes in transition, not stopping the ball. That’s pretty basic stuff, but that’s the pressure that Steph and Klay can put on a defense. And I’m sure that’s an adjustment that will be made, and the whole thing that for them is if they don’t turn the ball over, then they’re not in that position. And I know that’s been their rallying cry the last couple of days.
So we don’t expect to force 20 turnovers, we don’t expect to only have four ourselves, and the game will much more likely be less chaotic for them and they’re going to put a lot of pressure on us. We know it’s coming, and we got to be ready.
Q. Have you informed the team? And if so what has been their reaction?
COACH KERR: I haven’t even said anything to the team. They have been informed throughout the process, they know that I’m doing better. I’ve been kind of giving them updates, but we didn’t have a shootaround this morning, I didn’t send out the group text or anything. I am just going to go in there and — they probably already know because they’re all on their phones all the time.
But it doesn’t matter. Whether it’s — like I said, it’s whether it’s Mike or me, we’re doing the same stuff.
Q. What changes for you? You’ve been around this team now for the past few weeks. What, other than going on the bench for the actual game, what changes? What’s different for you now?
COACH KERR: Meaning what?
Q. Well, you’ve been talking to the team at practices, addressing them before, during games and so forth. So is the only step you’re making basically, is to be on the bench during the game?
COACH KERR: Yeah, that’s it. And the decisions that we make during the game, they’re always collaborative, so we’ll be — I’ll be game coaching with Mike and Jarron and Ron and Q and we’ll make our decisions together, but it’s not really — it’s not really that much different. It’s the same thing that I’ve been doing for the last three years, but, unfortunately, I’ve had a couple of times during my coaching stint here where there’s been interruptions, unfortunately. But that’s the way it goes.
Q. What’s your assessment of how Mike did, and do you still need him now?
COACH KERR: I just think the numbers are totally deceiving. You can talk like 15-0 or whatever he did, but the team was just falling apart at the seams, and so I just had to get back to make sure we righted the ship.
No, Mike is perfect, he’s perfect as my right-hand man. He’s such a good coach and a good person. And the way he’s handled this whole thing is incredible, just the humility and yet the confidence with which he took the reins. Players appreciate him, the staff does, I certainly do. He’s an amazing guy and lucky to have him.
Q. So Klay’s had stretches like this before where he hasn’t really been making all his shots. I think he was 3-16 last game. Do you do anything differently with him? Do you say anything, or is there anything that gets him out of it?
COACH KERR: No, I’m a big believer that when you play really well, if you don’t shoot well, but you play well, it’s just a matter of time before the shot comes. I thought he played exceptionally well in Game 1. 3-16, notwithstanding, that’s what — the numbers are going to show that, but the defense was tremendous, his decision-making with the ball, drive and kick game, he made great decisions all game, played with force. He had probably four shots go in and out watching the tape, literally like one-inch long, right on the back rim, right on line, rattling out.
You can kind of tell, it’s almost like a baseball player hitting line drives at people, like, okay, he may have gone 0-4, but he had two line drives to the shortstop.
Like it’s coming. That’s my take on Klay.
Q. Obviously you’ve been around the game for a long time, third straight year you’re coaching in the NBA Finals, but what does it mean to you emotionally to be back on that bench and just to be back with the guys in the game? Because I know you’ve been there this whole time, but I guess maybe put into perspective the kind of the loss of having that taken away and now being back.
COACH KERR: Yeah, I’m trying not to get wrapped up in that because this is a Finals game, and it’s just about going out and trying to win. But it is good to be back.
This is what I love to do, I love being with the players and staff, so it’s fun to be back up here.
Q. Do you feel like your health is back at like the baseline where you coached all 82 games this season, or do you feel like it’s even better than that?
COACH KERR: I feel like it’s back where it was before the Portland series. And as I told you guys, when I stepped aside in Portland, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why things got worse. But since that time, and it’s probably been, I don’t know, five, six weeks, I’ve gotten a lot better and I feel like I’m back to the baseline of where I was during the regular season when I coached every game, as you know.
Q. You just said you didn’t tell the team yet. What are you planning to tell them, and do you expect any extra effort because you’re back?
COACH KERR: I’m going to pull out the “Win one for The Gipper” speech. What’s the movie? I can’t — “Knute Rockne, All-American”? Yeah, probably show that. Maybe get a little teary eyed. Implore them to win it for me because it’s not important for them to win it for themselves.
That will probably be something like that.
Q. How do you think — I guess it’s a two-part question. How do you think the team handled your absence? We were asking them, basically, coaches, players every day what do you think about Steve, do you think he’s going to come back or whatnot. Do you think it was a distraction during that time for them? How did you feel about that whole process?
COACH KERR: Apparently it was not a distraction. I don’t know. We have not lost, so that’s a good indication that it was not a distraction. And what’s our record now without me? Like 812-6 and something?
COACH KERR: 51-4. These guys are not easily distracted, so… I do want to say, see the picture of Al Attles on the wall, and I want to congratulate Al and also Hubie Brown for receiving the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.
Al’s been a big presence for us the last couple years. Players enjoy his presence. He’s a big part of our organization. Hubie’s been a friend for a long time, one of the great broadcasters, as you guys know. Love listening to Hubie, still going strong. So I want to congratulate both of them on receiving that award.