Maybe it’s because it’s such a well-known fact, but it doesn’t get repeated enough that Steve Kerr is now officially part of the two greatest regular-season teams in NBA history. He was a guard on the 1995-96 Bulls who went 72-10, and he’s the head coach of a Warriors team that, at worst, will tie that record. Golden State can eclipse it entirely at home on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
While that type of accomplishment speaks volumes about Kerr, it certainly helps that he’s also been around some of the best players to ever play the game. He played alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (and was coached by Phil Jackson) in Chicago. In Oakland, he has the best shooter in the game today in Stephen Curry with a hell of a supporting cast.
Kerr will be the first one to admit that (via USA Today):
I don’t even know what to say, really. It’s crazy. It just feels like a right-place-right-time type thing to be part of two teams that have performed like this and won at this level for the entire season. I’m pretty lucky, really, just to play next to Michael and Scottie and Dennis (Rodman) and play for Phil (Jackson) and come here and inherit this whole group. Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) and Andre (Iguodala), and everybody else, as my first coaching job. A pretty good draw.
The NBA is such a star-driven league that greatness sometimes doesn’t get its due because of circumstances. For example: Is Jackson really one of the greatest coaches of all time, or did he merely get lucky by inheriting Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaq over the years? The answer is that individual skill and surrounding circumstances aren’t mutually exclusive. Jackson is one of the greatest basketball minds ever and he coached the greatest players. That’s why he has 11 rings (13 when you count the two he got as a player).
Similarly, Kerr was by no means a slouch when he played for the Bulls, and he’s certainly not one as a head coach. It takes a special mind to not only coach up elite players in the league, but also manage egos. You need good assistants, too, and Luke Walton did far more than keep the ship afloat this season in Kerr’s absence. Furthermore, it’s difficult to follow up a national championship with this type of run.
In short, Kerr’s done it all at Golden State.
Yes, luck has something to do with Kerr being the common thread between Chicago and Golden State. No one is denying that, and they shouldn’t. Kerr didn’t begin his career with the Bulls and could just have easily never played there. But Kerr deserves credit for being in this position as well. He’s earned that much.
(Via USA Today)