Steve Kerr has helped turn the Warriors into an offensive juggernaut.
It didn’t initially, though. After becoming accustomed to Mark Jackson’s isolation-heavy style, Golden State looked uneven earlier in Kerr’s first season. Players remained too stationary without the ball, and they were off in their decisions to pass or shoot.
By virtue of a schedule quirk, the Warriors were granted a four-day break after a road game against the Lakers, and when Kerr entered the visitors locker room at Staples Center before tip-off, he proffered a deal: “Play the way we’ve been talking about and play the right way — take care of the ball, defend, do all that stuff — and I’ll give you the next two days off.” The players literally gasped in disbelief.
That night, there wasn’t one moment, or a singular play, but a river of them — a constant flow, the ball pinballing around the court, side to side, to the tune of 343 passes. “Beautiful,” Kerr says, thinking back on it. The Warriors scored a season-high 136 points.
In the days prior, what Kerr had most wanted was to know that his words were being heeded. “You just want to know the ship is heading in the right direction,” he says. And as he watched the rout unfold, he saw everything he had been preaching, his players carrying out his vision with focus and flair.
This encapsulates what makes Kerr such a great coach. He obviously had a fantastic scheme, but he also knew how to reach his players.
Two days off in Los Angeles? That’s a carrot that draws attention.