I started today hoping to talk to Nick — who Steve Kerr confirmed will be moving to a video role with the San Antonio Spurs after this season — about going through all this with his father and about the coaching profession.
As part of this, Steve Kerr agreed today to talk about what Nick has meant to him … and then he also agreed to discuss his own situation at length, just two days before Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Cleveland.
Kerr is clearly feeling better than he has since he left the team in late-April — he ran practice today and yesterday for the first time, and took Brown’s place for the coach’s media session yesterday when Brown had the flu.
But as Kerr explains, this is no easy decision, with time running out, and the Finals are not just another bunch of games; also, he’s still not close to 100 percent.
I think you can hear how much Kerr is tempted to try, though. You can feel how much he wants to coach these games, but he knows this is not something to rush.
-Q: You look better, for sure, the last few days. Has there been a step forward the last few days?
-KERR: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve gotten a little better. Addressing the media yesterday, running practice the last
couple days, it’s been better.
So that’s good. We’ll see where it goes.
-Q: Is it an energy-level thing? Can you describe what it is you’re evaluating as you decide whether you can coach now?
-KERR: It’s a pain thing and the repercussions of pain. I’ve been dealing with it for almost two years. I’ve been able to deal with it for the most part.
It’s not a cognitive thing. It’s not even really an energy thing. It’s a pain thing. And the threshold is really important–what’s the threshold?
For whatever reason, I don’t know why, but a month ago, man, it got worse. You could see it, I’m sure, interviewing me.
-Q: Is there any worry that coming back could mess it up a little bit?
-KERR: I don’t think it would. With our team I don’t think it would. Like I said, we’re doing the same stuff.
I think just, it’s the Finals, there’s going to be a spotlight, is it a distraction? Is it another storyline? Do we need to deal with all that?
I don’t know. Ultimately I don’t think I can worry about that. I’ve got to play it by ear–if I’m feeling good I should coach and if I’m not feeling up to it, then I shouldn’t. And it’s that simple.
-Q: Did you know Mike was going to be this good walking into it?
-KERR: Oh yeah. Yeah.
-Q: Just like that?
-KERR: He’s got so much head-coaching experience. And the best thing is this didn’t happen in the beginning of the year. It happened in the end.
In the beginning of the year he didn’t understand our team. He really didn’t. It was such a different vibe in here for him. ‘Why aren’t we calling more plays?’ (Laughs.)
I think about half-way through the year he came to me and just said, ‘Man, I get it.’ It’s this balance between fun and work and discipline and craziness and order and chaos. And we’re constantly trying to find that balance.
Because ultimately we’re better when we have a little hair on fire.
You know. You’ve seen our team now. It’s always a dance. And we want to walk the line.
So I think Mike over the course of the year has really figured that out and he’s done a great job with it–since the playoffs started–of calling plays at the right time, making substitutions at a really good time, what he’s saying to the team, what he’s not saying.
And he’s done a great job of navigating an awkward situation, where I’m still the head coach, but he’s got to do what he thinks is right. And I’m not out there with him.
I’m trying to do the right thing, just supporting him behind the scenes.
I mean, it’s as good a situation as we could have under the circumstances. But that’s all based on the quality of people we have on the staff–that’s what makes it work. It’s not just Mike, it’s JC, it’s Ron, it’s Q, CD, Nick, Willie.
What we have has already been established. We’re all in this together. Nobody’s going to be coming to you going, ‘Psst, Steve would’ve called this play. I don’t know what’s doing. Or vice-versa. That’s not happening here.’
-Q: I’ll ask you now: Can you say that you definitely will coach again at some point?
-KERR: Hell yeah.
You know, it’s a little trickier, since this has been going on. I sort of assumed all last year that by the summer I’d get this thing knocked out.
It’s been kind of a mystery and that’s what so frustrating. But I have every intention to coach for a long time. It’s scary stuff and still hoping for a better resolution to it.
-Q: No matter what happens in the Finals, will you be coaching the start of next regular season?
-KERR: That’s the plan. But what’s the date–it’s May 30. I can’t promise anything, neither can Bob (Myers). We have to figure everything out this summer.
It’s a very unique situation, a very difficult situation for me personally and for Bob and Joe. It’s probably unprecedented.
One thing I know is that we’ll all work together. They’re going to want to do what’s best for me, I’m going to want to do what’s best for them. We’ll figure out whatever that is.