How Steve Kerr preserved Warriors winning culture through losing seasons

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How Kerr preserved Dubs' winning culture through losing years originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors hit the resume button on their dynasty in 2021-22 by defeating the Boston Celtics in six games to clinch their fourth NBA championship in the last eight years.

But even as the franchise's dynasty tag wavered during two injury-riddled seasons -- a 15-win disappointment in 2019-20 and play-in tournament flop the following year -- the Warriors' culture never disappeared.

On Friday, Golden State coach Steve Kerr joined Andre Iguodala's Point Forward Podcast and pinpointed how he maintained a winning culture at Chase Center, even when the team was spending most nights in the loss column.

"We basically did the exact same thing. We still played music in practice, still made fun of each other, made fun of ourselves," Kerr said. "Did birthday videos, invited the children in, player’s kids to come in and shoot. All of that is authentic to who we are. And we kept doing that.

"And it mattered, especially when you’re losing, that’s when the culture has to matter. That’s my feeling."

When the 2019-20 trade deadline arrived, the Warriors had the worst record in the Western Conference at 12-40. Golden State had endured a 10-game losing streak from December into January, just one of five double-digit losing streaks for the team since the turn of the century.

Golden State packaged D'Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans III to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Andrew Wiggins blockbuster trade. The Warriors also sent guards Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III to the Philadelphia 76ers for three second-round picks.

None of those players wanted to leave the Bay.

"I think maybe the best compliment that I got that year is when we traded like five guys at the trade deadline because we were struggling and we had to get under the tax," Kerr said. "You don’t want to be a taxpayer when you have the worst record in the league. We traded a bunch of guys.

"Honestly, most of them wanted to stay. It was such a great compliment to hear that from those guys. Here we were with the worst record in the league, but guys were enjoying the process of learning and growing and getting better, being in a really healthy environment.

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"That was, in a weird way, really gratifying. These guys have enjoyed a season where we had the worst record in the league, we must be doing something right."

When Golden State stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green finally reunited on the court this spring, the winning culture was right there where they left it. And Kerr deserves a lot of credit for that.

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