OAKLAND, Calif. — By now the world knows that Steve Kerr is not like a lot of rookie coaches. First off, not very many rookie coaches get the chance to play for a championship right out of the box.
Then again, not many rookie coaches are willing to think completely outside the box and take strategy suggestions mid-championship series from a guy whose duties include selecting and spinning the tunes at practice.
But when 28-year-old special assistant to the head coach Nick U’Ren proposed that the Warriors switch to a small lineup for Game 4 of The Finals, it was music to Kerr’s ears. And the notion that they’re all in this together continues to be why this entire season has come together like a symphony for a Golden State franchise seeking to win its first NBA title in 40 years.
With U’Ren’s plan, the Warriors ripped off a 103-82 win on Thursday night in Cleveland and now return to Oracle Arena for Game 5 with a 2-2 tie and home-court advantage back in hand.
“Things are open every day that we have a meeting,” said Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton following Saturday’s practice. “Go back to the Memphis series. (Assistant coach) Ron Adams threw out the idea that we should try putting (Andrew) Bogut on Tony Allen. It wasn’t, ‘Well, Ron said, it we’re doing it.’ It turns into a discussion and Steve really liked the idea.
“We give Steve a lot of credit also to be a rookie coach and to have the balls to do some of these moves this deep into the playoffs. It is impressive. He hangs it out there and our guys respond every time that that type of challenge presents itself. It’s all year long. Anytime anybody has ideas, we bring them to the table. He doesn’t want the credit for it. I mean, he should get it all, because if it doesn’t work he’s gonna get the blame for it.
“Steve would have taken the fall. At 7-0 (Cavs) early in that game, people were probably questioning, ‘What the heck is this guy doing? He’s in over his head.’ And he would never have thrown Nick under the bus.”
The Warriors players have responded through a 67-15 regular season and long playoff run to Kerr’s atmosphere of overall inclusiveness.
“One thing I’ve always been taught is that in order to be a great leader, you have to be a great follower,” said forward Draymond Green. “In order to be a great leader, you have to listen to other people. Most people would probably say, ‘Oh, man! Nick’s not on the coaching staff.’ But yet Coach Kerr always tells us, ‘I listen to anybody — video guy, video intern.’ Those guys watch a ton of film. You know, sometimes they may even watch more film than Coach does. They’re the ones breaking it all down. So it just says a lot about Coach Kerr’s character that he would listen and get it worked out.”