Warriors' Steve Kerr counts blessings for Steph Curry partnership originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Programming note: Watch Monte Poole's wide-ranging interview with Warriors coach Steve Kerr in the latest episode of "Dubs Talk," which will debut Wednesday at 11 p.m., after "Dubs Talk Live," on NBC Sports Bay Area.
SAN FRANCISCO – Though many are the factors that in recent years have made the Warriors not only four-time NBA champions but also a franchise synonymous with excellence, it all begins with two men.
Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry.
Or, as Kerr would say, Stephen Curry and maybe the head coach.
“Coaches over the years are either lucky or unlucky, based on who they get to coach,” said recently in a televised interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “The very luckiest coaches of all time are people like me, who get to coach a superstar player and human being.
“And what Steph has meant to the Warriors, that’s what he’s meant to me. There’s a reason I’m still here. Steph is a huge part of that.”
Curry is entering his 15th season as Golden State’s superstar point guard. Kerr is preparing for his 10th season with the only team he has ever coached. Together, they have made six trips to the NBA Finals, winning four NBA championships. During that span, Kerr has won a Coach of the Year award, and Curry has won two MVP awards and one NBA Finals MVP award.
Each makes it easier for the other to perform at his best. Their compatibility is so apparent that it’s sometimes hard to tell which is following the other’s lead.
“It’s the tone he sets every day,” Kerr says. “The values that he has match those that I have. The idea of competing with joy and energy? He embodies all of that, and that’s what I believe in. We just have this great partnership that I count my blessings for every single day.”
Curry’s impeccable work habits set a standard that even his most ambitious teammates find hard to match. Kerr, of course, loves that. Any coach loves it when his team leader and best player is also the hardest worker.
The two men have, over time, developed a much better understanding of each other. Their first season together produced two viral moments in a single play. The first was Curry dribbling through five Los Angeles Clippers before launching and making a 3-pointer at the top of the arc. The second was Kerr’s reaction, spreading his arms in what-the-hell disbelief at Curry’s brazen attempt and then clutching his head when the ball went through the hoop.
Eventually, Kerr saw the light. Somewhere along the procession of awards, the coach concluded that it’s best to let Steph be Steph.
Yet the game accounts for only a portion of what has made the Kerr-Curry relationship so enduring. The more valuable aspect – and it is the foundation of their basketball partnership – is that their character and outlook on life are similar. Both are basketball junkies who also happen to be committed to doing what they can to better serve humanity.
Their mutual interests run far beyond basketball, golf, or sports in general. They have similar social consciences; both have engaged in numerous events designed to further justice and equality. There have been times when Kerr wondered if Curry is devoting too much of himself to causes – no matter how honorable.
“We still have to talk to him about that,” Kerr says with a grin. “He attacks life. He attacks life. He loves everything about life. He loves his family. He loves playing golf. loves all of his charitable endeavors. There are days that he comes into practice, and he hasn’t slept much. You can tell. He’s got sleep in his eyes.”
Kerr, the man, admires Curry’s effort.
There was a time when no coach would allow his players to head to the golf course on a road trip. Kerr encourages it, in part because he knows how much it means for his best player.
“We’ve learned more,” Kerr says. “We understand more about human nature and human psychology and how important it is to do the things you love so that when you’re going through the grind of other stuff, you have plenty of energy.”
There is no knowing how long their partnership will last, or how fruitful it might be this season.
We do know both have formed the foundation essential to the roaring success of a franchise that not long ago set an annual goal of making the playoffs.
The only goal now is championships, for which the Warriors can thank Kerr and Curry. Or Curry and Kerr.