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NBA FINALS: CAVALIERS v WARRIORS


June 3, 2015


Steve Kerr


OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: Practice Day

Q.¬† Coach, do you expect them to cross match defensively more than they did when you guys played them in February, and how much will that affect your offense as far as targeting match‑ups and stuff like that?
COACH KERR:¬† Well, I think it's a strength of both teams, defensive versatility, the ability to change match‑ups, guard different people.
So, yeah, I would expect some of that.  It usually happens in the playoffs when you have more time to prepare and you mix and match, you try different things, and maybe try to throw the other team off balance a little bit.  So we're preparing for some of that.

Q.  In your years of playing with Cleveland, what did you learn about how the city views its sports teams, the championship drought, just the way the city, I guess, that cares so much about ending that streak?
COACH KERR:  I had a great experience in Cleveland.  I was there three and a half years, played for a Hall of Fame coach Lenny Wilkens, and we had really good teams.
But it was fun to be a part of the city.  I used to go to Indians games and Browns games, and you felt the passion of the sports community there.  The fans loved all their teams.
So I'm really happy for the city of Cleveland, for them to be in The Finals.  Just like here in Golden State, a lot of years where they've supported their team and haven't had a lot of success, so I'm really happy for both fan bases.

Q.¬† Could the extra‑‑ could I guess the futility be felt by some of the players in terms of extra pressure to perform well?
COACH KERR:  I don't think so.  We all just have enough to worry about on our own just playing the games and focusing on our jobs.  That's a big part of The Finals experience is just trying to block out everything else and just play, and that's a big focus for us and I'm sure for them too.

Q.  About a year ago at this time, give or take a few weeks, there was an opportunity for you and Coach Blatt to possibly team up, and obviously he takes the Cavs job, the rest is history.  But could you have imagined back then a year ago that you two would be the last two coaches standing?
COACH KERR:  No, not a chance.  It is a good story line.  It's something that David and I will probably discuss when we do see each other.  The irony of it all, he almost came here to join our staff.  Part of my selling job to David was, hey, we're going to be pretty good.  I didn't know we'd be in The Finals, but, hey, we're going to be pretty good.  You join our staff, that will give you an opportunity for a springboard for a head coaching job within the next year or two.
Two weeks later he's head coach of the Cavs, and a couple weeks after that he's got LeBron, and everything, obviously changed from there, and here we are.  But I'm really happy for him.  He's a good man, and a great coach.

Q.¬† Just a follow‑up, if I may, how similar would you say your philosophies are?
COACH KERR:¬† Well, we definitely bonded over‑‑ in our conversations, we bonded over our shared philosophies.¬† The game is not that complicated.¬† There's different styles you can play, but I always admired the way his teams played, and we definitely share a lot of the same beliefs as far as chemistry and sharing the ball and pace and that kind of stuff.
But he's done a great job with a team that's really sort of changed several times during the course of the year.  They've evolved, and they're playing awfully well now.

Q.¬† Just to follow up a little bit on the David Blatt relationship.¬† He did not have LeBron when he took the job.¬† Did you sort of see once LeBron decided to go there that, oh, the pressure is on David?¬† And then when they were 19‑20, I don't know if you had any conversations with David over the season, but did you empathize what he was going through, and what did you think ultimately of the job he was able to do?
COACH KERR:  Well, we actually played Cleveland right at that stretch.  LeBron was out with the injury.  They were right around .500, and David and I had a brief conversation.  I think it was before the game in the hallway outside the locker room.  I don't remember exactly what we talked about, but I do remember part of it being the pressure that comes in this business, but especially when you're coaching LeBron and the expectations that come your way.  Then as soon as things go a little bit south, what happens with the media, with the fans.
I thought just the way he's handled everything, the way they righted the ship and whatever other cliché you want to use, weathered the storm, I thought he handled it well.  It's one of the big reasons why they're here right now.  Their whole team dealt with all that adversity really well, and they've gotten better and better ever since.

Q.  With none of your players having been here before, it's pretty unusual, obviously, to have no one with experience, is that any concern at all?  Do you have a bigger role now just being the guy who is experienced in kind of telling them what it's going to be like?
COACH KERR:  Yeah, I mean, we've talked about just the chaos that surrounds the game itself, and you have to be able to separate the two.  You've got to go through the media frenzy and the other distractions that come with being in The Finals, and you still have to focus on your job.  I had Luke Walton address the team a few days ago about his experiences with the Lakers.  I've shared a couple thoughts from my own experiences.
But what I really found as a player was once you get out on the floor, you just start playing, and everything returns to normal.  It's still just a basketball game.  But you've got to get to that point, and the best way to do that is to try to ignore the chaos as much as you can.  But obviously we're right in the middle of it today, and it's going to be like that on game days throughout the series.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about going up against LeBron; that's going to be one of the obviously focuses of this Finals at least at the start.  I know it's a team, but he's one of the individual players that gets so much attention.  What's it like having to coach against LeBron?  What's he bring to any team, especially the Cavaliers?
COACH KERR:  Well, he obviously is one of the great players in the league.  He affects every single play down the floor at both ends.  So it's not just some great players you have to defend a certain action, this is where he wants to get his shot.  With LeBron, it's everything that happens, and there is a chain reaction as a result.
You go over your concepts and your thoughts and how you want to defend them, and then you implement it, and you hope for the best.

Q.  I'm sure you covered a lot of games in Cleveland over the years.  What do you imagine the pressure level is like for LeBron now coming back to Cleveland.  He told them to be patient, but here they are in The Finals, or does it even affect a guy like that?
COACH KERR:  I haven't given that one ounce of thought, nor will I.  I've got my own thoughts and my own things to deal with.  So whatever LeBron is feeling, you're going to have to ask him that.

Q.  Coach, two things, first, can you talk about why you think it is that Cleveland gets such flack as being a destination that people try to avoid?  Players that have been there always speak highly of it.  Second of all, could you clarify with Blatt, I know he was probably brought on as an assistant, but would it have been a lead assistant, or what would have been his role?
COACH KERR:  First part of the question, as I said, I played in Cleveland for three years.  Let's face it, it's cold.  It's very cold there.  I had a fantastic experience.  I have family there.  My wife and I really enjoyed living there and being part of the city.  I think almost every player who goes there ultimately finds out this is a great place.  This is a great place to be.
But in general players want to be somewhere a little more warm, a little more glamorous.
But as far as the other part of the question, I was in the process of building a staff.¬† Alvin Gentry was already on board.¬† I talked to David.¬† He would have been‑‑ I don't know how to characterize who is the lead assistant, who is the second.¬† None of that really matters.¬† It's all just titles.¬† He just would have been a huge part of what we were trying to do.

Q.¬† Brad Stevens recently described the experience of preparing for LeBron as fun.¬† Is any part of this‑‑ you talked about the challenges that go into it‑‑ is any part of it fun?¬† When you were an analyst, did you sort of think about what it would be like to prepare for him in a playoff series?
COACH KERR:  Yeah, I always thought about stuff like that when I was an analyst because I knew I wanted to coach.  But to be honest, every bit of it is fun.  It really is.  It's a challenge.  It's not fun to lose when you lose, but we get to do this for a living.  We get to coach basketball.  Or Klay will be up here in a second; he gets to play basketball.  They pay us a lot of money.  We're not digging ditches.  We're living the dream.
Obviously, we want to win, there are highs and lows, but to me every bit of this is fun, and we, as a team, our philosophy is to enjoy every day, and it's been a lot of fun this year.  Hopefully we'll have some more fun the next couple of weeks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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