Steve Kerr all but ruled himself out of Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals, in a surprise visit with the media on Monday. The Golden State Warriors coach, out for the last five weeks due to the re-emergence of complications from his 2015 back surgery, spoke in place of the flu-ridden Mike Brown, the coach who replaced Kerr and responded with a 10-0 record in Golden State’s run to the Finals.
“As of right now, I will not coach Thursday night,” Kerr said when asked about Game 1, though he did admit that the final decision was still “up in the air.”
When asked why Kerr saw fit to rule himself out of 10 games after successfully coaching the Warriors without sidelining bouts of pain from February 2016 through April 19, Kerr explained the pain that only he could understand:
“I’m not well enough to coach game, and I know that [because] I coached all 82 games and I did OK,” Kerr explained. “I was uncomfortable and in a lot of pain, but I did fine. I could make it through. The first two games of the Portland series, whatever happened, things got worse.
“You saw me in the fourth quarter of Game 2. I could not sit still in my chair. It was that much pain. I would say that I’ve gotten a little bit better. That’s why I’m here talking to you now. But you can probably tell I’m not sitting here happy go lucky.”
Kerr promised to at least travel to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 (and, presumably, beyond), but ESPN’s Chris Haynes noted that Kerr “was visibly in some level of discomfort” in talking to the media on Monday, though he hid it quite well through the tube:
As you can hear in the full clip above, Kerr repeatedly praised the work of Mike Brown, before lending insight into the state of his current interactions with the club:
“I’m taking part in practices, helping with the messaging, taking part in coaching meetings, but I’m not on the sidelines during games. So, he has to make those [in-game] decisions,” Kerr said. “It’s his team, but he’s also taking my advice and counsel from behind the scenes. It’s not easy, but he’s obviously doing a good job. There seems to be a theme when I’m out. I think the team is like 108 and 2. So, I’m not sure what it is.”
More than halve that win total, double those losses, and you’ve got the 49-4 record Luke Walton (39-4) and Mike Brown (10-0) coupled together as interim head coaches. Both runs are significant in their own, apparently ongoing, ways. Kerr’s 103-29 mark over the same span of time, including a full Finals run in 2016, is nothing to gloss over. As was his sterling, 67-win and champion season in 2014-15.
Before that back surgery, and the complications that came throughout the summer of 2015. Complications that may not get in the way of Golden State winning its second championship in three years starting on June 1, but debilitating aftereffects that may keep Steve Kerr on the sidelines throughout its run.
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