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June 9, 2020

Steve Kerr

Oakland, California

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming on today. As noted yesterday with Bob and his season-ending media availabilities, same thing here today with Coach Kerr.

We'll start with questions right away.

Q. What have these last few months been like for you? Such a strange, difficult time for the country, for basketball, for sports, so many people. What have your days been like? It's got to be kind of a weird time.
STEVE KERR: Yeah, it's been sort of several different time periods within the few months. You always have a cooling-off period when the season ends where you kind of decompress. There was definitely that decompression. Although we didn't know how long the quarantine would last or whether we were going to start back up, I tried to just focus in on just getting some rest.

Then there was the draft prep, several weeks of draft prep, self-evaluation as an organization, spending a lot of time with Bob really going through everything we do, figuring out ways we can get better.

This was kind of the first time we've had a chance to breathe in a lot of ways as an organization over the last five years. All of that was completely rendered meaningless over the last couple weeks, given the events in our country based on the death of George Floyd and the resulting protests and debate across the country.

It has been a very unique and important time for all of us. In many ways I just sort of look at it as a pause, a chance to really pause and kind of take stock both individually and collectively as an organization.

Q. What does your ideal summer look like? Given the circumstances, how much would you want guys in? Are you thinking mini camp? Summer league has been floated. What would a good summer for you be with the guys?
STEVE KERR: Well, yeah, we're still trying to figure that out. I think the league has been great about working with us on actual mini camps. We definitely need to get our team together for a period of time. I don't know for how long, but we definitely need to be together and have some practice sessions.

Given that 22 of the teams are going to be allowed to do so for a minimum of a couple of weeks practice and a couple weeks of games while the rest of us are not part of that, the league is sensitive to giving us the space that we're going to need. We're still in touch with the league about what that means.

I think what I would like as a coach is a couple of weeks of practice at least, maybe two different blocks of a couple of weeks where we can bring guys in, health permitting, regulations permitting of course, given the virus. If we could have a couple different blocks where our players could come in, work with our training staff, we get them on the court almost like an OTA for an NFL team where we can install some things for next year, think about what we want to accomplish, get some practice sessions in, I think it would bridge the gap towards a more normal off-season, then lead us into next season in a healthier frame of mind.

That's the idea in some form or fashion.

Q. Maybe this is something you'll think about in November or December. What is your concern level about the staleness potentially of a lot of your players who are going to have a minimum of nine months off, Klay a year and a half off?
STEVE KERR: Yeah, I mean, that's one reason why I think it's important to mix in a couple of mini camps so that we can knock off some of that rust or staleness, whatever you want to call it.

But who are we to complain? We complained enough about not having any time off over the last five years. We can't now turn around and say we've got too much time off.

We're just going to take advantage of what we can, use the rest, use the time wisely. I know that our players, whenever we come in to prepare for next season, are going to be rearing to go. In the end it will be a positive step no matter how this plays out.

Q. When you reflect on the season you had, so many challenges with players being down injured, and the young players who were called upon who wouldn't have been maybe necessarily in other circumstances, how they came out and competed night after night with an energy that the record doesn't show, how much do you reflect on those guys, how proud are you of how they grew, came together?
STEVE KERR: Yeah, I mean, it's always difficult to lose games consistently and have to be on the wrong end of the score night after night. It's a really hard thing to go through. I'm proud of our players who still finding a way to make this season very productive despite the losses.

I thought they showed a lot of fight, a lot of competitive spirit. I thought a lot of guys really used the season to advance their careers. That's important both individually for them and for us as a team.

To think about the improvement of Marquese and Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, and to see some of the contributions made by guys fighting trying to make the league, Ky Bowman, Juan, Mike, it was really fun. It was really fun to see them fight and see them really learning about the NBA, learning how to be professional, figuring out the job.

So in the end I'm very proud of them. I have no doubt that we will be better for it next year.

Q. What do you think collectively you can build on from this last season for next season?
STEVE KERR: Well, I think most players really see a huge jump early in their careers once they've kind of settled in and had a solid year under their belt. I'm looking for a big leap forward for some of our younger players to the point where they can get into our rotation. Now, who that is, that's up to them. They have to earn that next year in camp, exhibition season, all of that.

That's what we're really looking for. We want to be a contender. We want to be in the hunt. We got to establish ourselves as a team that can be a playoff team. In order to do that and give ourselves a chance, we've got to get much better defensively.

I thought we made strides as the season went along. I think we should be better next year given the experience and getting Steph and Klay back. Getting some help through free agency and the draft, hopefully we can elevate our defense to the level it needs to be in order to be a playoff team and a contender.

Q. Juan has organized a couple different protests against police brutality. A bunch of your players, including Klay and Steph, have attended one of them. Your players have been vocal on social media with everything going on. What have been your thoughts seeing that?
STEVE KERR: Well, I'm really proud of my players. I've been in touch with Juan. I think it's fantastic at such a young age to take the initiative to organize a peaceful protest. That's what our country is about. It's in the Constitution. For a group of young people to organize themselves, for our players to be a part of that, to follow through on it, it speaks to how much they care about the Bay Area and the community and each other.

I'm really proud of all of them.

Q. You've coached so many players that have spoken out about so many different racial issues over the years. What do you think you've learned from those experiences, being able to talk with them about those things?
STEVE KERR: Well, I think we've always been very open as a coaching staff. We've tried to give our players plenty of freedom and space to speak their minds, not only with you guys, with the media, but also within our circle, within the confines of the organization and the team.

I think that's especially important right now. I think our players have grown comfortable speaking out about the things they feel are important. Now is a really important time to do so.

So we will try to continue to foster that kind of free thinking and free-flowing communication with our players and our fans, understand the role that we can play not just in entertaining our fans but being part of the community, being part of an overall community commitment to trying to build a safer and better society in the Bay Area.

I think everybody plays a role in that, every citizen. Our players have big platforms to help along those lines. I'm proud that they're using them.

Q. Does this feel different this time where you have people taking to the streets all over the country, from rural towns to huge cities? You've done town halls on gun violence, social issues. Could it be different this time?
STEVE KERR: Yeah, I think so. It feels different. We haven't had this level of public protest in a long time. Obviously these things happen for a reason. They just don't come about all at once. There's a lot of frustration and trauma. There's a lot that goes into this.

So I think, again, we all can play our own role in trying to help our community. What that means for us as an organization, I think it means educating ourselves and educating our players, and in turn us trying to help educate people in general. We do a lot of appearances. Our players do a lot of appearances in schools. We have a huge educational component to our community foundation.

I think probably the most important thing we can really do in my mind, after giving this a lot of thought, is really commit to teaching people about the African American experience in this country. I'm not talking about the homogenized one that we all learned in American history in high school. We need to learn the real American history, the one that tells the truth about some of the awfulness to it.

We've got to be able to come to grips with it before we can do anything about it. That sort of reconciliation with the sins of our past is a crucial part of all this. It requires a big effort for everybody to actually come to grips with that.

It's really hard for us. Since we love our country, it's hard for all of us to really come to grips with what we've put the African American communities through the course of American history. Most people really don't know. I know my education excluded so much of that.

So I would like to think that we can make a really concerted effort to learn more about that in order to be able to make some strides socially and politically. It's the only way we'll have the foundation upon which to do so.

Q. There are obviously so many variables in the future. Nobody has the answer right now. From what you and Pop have been told in regard to Team USA, are you confident that NBA players are still on track to participate for the Games next summer?
STEVE KERR: Believe it or not, I haven't had a single conversation with Pop about that. The reason is because we don't know. We've been talking almost daily now for the last couple of weeks. Before that we were speaking once every few weeks. We haven't even had a single conversation because there's nothing to report.

We're just like you: sort of waiting to hear what the news is. If the news is good, we're going to be able to take part, we'll be ready to roll. If not, then we'll deal with that later.

Q. You mentioned NFL OTAs as an example of what you might want. A lot of times the veterans don't necessarily participate. Considering the circumstances, would you like Steph, Klay, Draymond working in there doing everything everyone else is doing?
STEVE KERR: Oh, yeah, 100%. I would not consider this voluntary workouts. Obviously these are really unique circumstances. But given that we would be staring at a nine-month break, to be perfectly honest I would be shocked if any one of those three guys said to me, No, I don't want the work. They all know they need the work. We all need the work. They'll be there.

Q. Have you given any thought to the idea that's been floated out there, some eliminated teams are not near you guys geographically, but would you prefer the camp over the summer league almost?
STEVE KERR: Yeah, yeah. We're not interested in a summer league. Now, if there is maybe a more formal version of it after the draft, sort of like the normal summer league where we could maybe partner with a few teams nearby and have a few games with our young players and our rookies, we would be interested in something like that later on.

I guess the draft is in October, right, from what I understand? But that's different to what we're discussing. We're talking about some kind of mini camp. Some of the other teams are interested in playing games. We would not be interested in doing that.

I've talked to a couple of the coaches about that. Every team has its own unique set of circumstances. I definitely understand that a lot of the teams involved are younger and are more interested in getting game action for their players. But we're in a different space, and people understand that. We'd be more interested in practice time.

Q. Somewhat of a lighthearted question. Warriors basketball camp, they now have an 11-year-old on Zoom from Iceland who is wearing a Steph Curry jersey and gets to be part of Warriors camp. Given this setting, they made these camps virtual, he has an opportunity he never would have had otherwise. Can you imagine what it means to him and his family? A hat signed by Steph arrived yesterday.
STEVE KERR: I love it. I love it. We've known for a long time how popular the NBA is, how popular basketball is. I suppose that popularity is sort of running along the same path as figuring out life during the quarantine. Nobody knew what Zoom was a few months ago, and now we've got a kid doing basketball camp on Zoom from Iceland. We're all learning new ways to live.

I think that's a really, really cool dynamic. I'm glad it worked out.

Q. In 2016 Colin Kaepernick took a knee and lost his livelihood. Now in 2020 you have Roger Goodell saying, Yes, black lives matter, please take a knee on the field. What do you think those moments are like for the athletes who go first, for the athletes who take that risk to be outspoken? What is the best way to support these athletes who say things first and get vilified?
STEVE KERR: That's a good question. My sense a few years ago was that Kaepernick would ultimately be considered a hero, based on the experience Muhammad Ali had when he protested against going to Vietnam, was barred from fighting for years, was one of the most hated men in America. Eventually he became one of the most beloved.

I think oftentimes the very act of making a groundbreaking statement can be so surprising and shocking that it's not fully appreciated until later on.

My sense is that eventually Colin will be recognized for the gesture he made and the price he paid for it. I'm glad that the NFL is now supporting him.

I do think this feels different this time. There's more and more people that are becoming truly aware of what the experience is for the African American community. They're realizing that we have to do something about it as a country. We can't just sit here and nod our heads and say yeah and move on with our daily existence. We've got to actually all take part.

I think the beginning of this current movement anyway has been in the works for a while, probably going back to much earlier than Colin. Even the Ferguson incident in '14 and others that led to a lot of protests. This is definitely the culmination of a lot of frustration and trauma and work, and it does feel like a tipping point. I hope that it is.

Q. You mentioned the draft. What did you learn from looking at the film of a bunch of these guys?
STEVE KERR: It's the first time I've ever really been heavily involved just because I haven't had the time. It's been a lot of fun to watch these college games, international games. We've done a few Zoom interviews with players as well. I'm enjoying the process.

Bob does an amazing job of really taking his time and gathering information, not making rushes to judgment. Everybody wants to do a mock draft every single day. If the draft were today, who would you take first, what is your top five, what is your top 10. The thing I've learned from Bob is none of that matters. What matters is all the information that you can gather leading into the draft.

That's my focus, is trying to resist the urge to just sort of make blanket observations and say I either like this guy or I don't. There's so much that goes into it. There's a lot of study, a lot of different dynamics.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, appreciate your time.

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