The 2015-16 Warriors rewrote history by concluding their record-breaking NBA regular season with an astonishing 73 wins. Golden State may have achieved basketball immortality, but it faced many challenges along the way, including playing without Steve Kerr, the 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, for half of the season.
In an exclusive March interview with Kerr this year, he called this “the hardest year of my life.” Six weeks after the Warriors won it all last June, and following a 40-year championship drought in the Bay, Kerr underwent back surgery. Unexpected medical complications were the result. He was forced to take a four-month leave of absence to recover, leaving his team in the hands of assistant coach Luke Walton.
This was not Steve Kerr’s first challenge. He has experienced many extremes along the spectrum of emotions throughout his life. He won five NBA championships playing alongside Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson in Chicago, and with Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. However, during his freshman year at Arizona, he received a call from Beirut notifying him of his father’s assassination by an Islamic Jihad during the Lebanese Civil War.
Steve and his father, Malcolm, were both born in Beirut, Lebanon. Malcolm, a Princeton graduate, lived in Lebanon and the U.S. while continuing to further his education. His life’s ambition was to return to Lebanon and lead the American University of Beirut (AUB), a dream realized in 1982 when he became its president. For over a year, Malcolm Kerr worked out of his office in College Hall, just outside of which he was killed on January 18, 1984.
“His murder made me understand the pain that others experience,” Kerr says. “It’s made me realize that millions of people go through these things.”