Steve Kerr’s perseverance to return to the NBA Finals, capping off a dominant 16-1 run by the Warriors in the postseason, was admirable and needs to be celebrated.
Kerr had back surgery in Oct. 2015 and was forced to take a leave of absence for the first 43 games of last season. He gritted it out last year and through this year’s regular season, but has since faced complications from the surgery. He had to miss Game 2 of the Warriors’ series against the Trail Blazers. Later, it was announced he would be out indefinitely starting April 23 because of chronic pain.
“This past week for whatever reason, things got worse,” Kerr said after the announcement via CSN Bay Area. “My symptoms got worse. And I was not able to coach. The last few days have been difficult.”
He also emphasized that despite his unfortunate situation, he didn’t want to disrupt the team’s flow by being in and out every night.
“This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to do that to our team, to our staff.”
Kerr still made efforts to help the team prepare and remained involved with players throughout his absence during games, even in excruciating pain.
“We all grew last year when Steve went out,” assistant coach Bruce Fraser told the Mercury News. “So we know it a little bit better. Doesn’t mean we don’t miss him. We miss his voice and his intellect.”
Kerr’s return was a moment that felt like it was never going to come. But when it finally did, we immediately got to see his fun personality.
He joked with reporters about surprising his team that he was returning, saying, “I didn’t send out a group text or anything.”
Talk about a pleasant surprise.
His return for Game 2 of the Finals was a great moment, even if you’re not a fan of the Warriors. He received an emotional standing ovation from the Oracle Arena crowd before the game against the Cavaliers. He couldn’t help but get choked up after all he had been through.
The Warriors went on to win that game, 132-113, in an impressive performance for the return of their coach.
The Warriors are loaded with talent unlike we’ve ever seen before, but it’s a real feat to seamlessly transition between Kerr and Brown, and back to Kerr. Not only has Kerr done a good job coaching the team, but he’s created an atmosphere where anybody — including the coaches — can step up without missing a beat. That’s his true impact.
Kerr now has two championships in three years as the coach of the Warriors. If his health cooperates, he and the Warriors could accomplish great things in the coming years.
We don’t know if it will. But for this year, Kerr’s perseverance was remarkable.