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July 16, 2015

Steve Kerr


THE MODERATOR:  Steve Kerr, welcome back to the American Century Championship.  Steve has played in this event five times.  He was going to play this week.  He injured his back earlier and had to withdraw from the tournament.  We appreciate you honoring the commitment and coming up here.  It's great to have you.
STEVE KERR:  I didn't want to miss it.  It's too much fun.

Q.  How does it feel, 1 for 1 first time out you won the NBA championship five times as a player.  First year as a head coach you go all the way how does that feel?
STEVE KERR:  Incredible.  I think I knew we would have a really good team based on what the team had done the previous couple of years, just the talent.
But I'd be lying if I said I knew we'd win the whole thing or thought we would be there in the end, because I didn't know what to expect.  So it was just a dream season.  Everything went our way.  Everything just went perfectly.
And all the way through to the end basically stayed healthy and our guys played together and just an incredibly fun run.

Q.  It seems now that the team is swimming in the euphoria of the first world championship in 40 years for the Bay Area.  Players are out having a good time.  They're in the media.  They're getting that type of exposure.  You are too, obviously, today.  How does that feel?
STEVE KERR:  Well, it's great.  I saw a photo of about half our team at the ESPYs last night, and it seems like the Larry O'Brien Trophy has been treated like the Stanley Cup this summer.  I see pictures of all of our guys all over the country taking the trophy and showing it to their hometown.
And it's great.  The problem is when you go all the way, the offseason goes quickly.  And at some point here before too long our guys are going to have to forget about last year and move on to next year.
But it's still too early to make that transition.  They should enjoy every bit of this and they are.

Q.  You know that one Mr.Charles Barkley is here.  And you are good friends, obviously.  But Charles keeps talking about the need for big men, the need for big men.  How would you address Charles about that?
STEVE KERR:  I've been asked this so many times.  Everybody wants me to bite on that one.  I'm not going to bite.  There's a lot of different ways to win games.  Every team is different.
But I do think the game has changed quite a bit.  There are very few dominant low post bigs in the league.  People are shooting more three‑pointers than ever.  Defense has changed.
I think you can still win with a dominant big man but you have to find one first.  There's not that many out there.
I think, in my own personal opinion, if you want to win a title, it's not so much about small ball or big ball, it's about combining great defense and potent offense.
However you can score, you have to score.  But defensively we were number one in the league.  And that's what Charles always neglected to mention.  That's the only shot I'll take at Charles right there.
But the defense has to step up deep in the playoffs.  You've got to be able to make four, five stops in a row when you have to, and our team was capable of doing that.  And that's why we were able to win it all.  Despite small ball, three‑point shooting whatever else, it stills comes down to defense.

Q.  Steve, last year when you took the job, you kind of set out on a world tour to talk to all your guys.  Kind of a sales job to sell your program and yourself.  You did a lot of work in that respect.  Are you doing anything like that this offseason or anything similar?  What's your mission this time?
STEVE KERR:  I'm doing the exact opposite.  I'm leaving them alone.  Last summer I needed to get to know everybody and build relationships so that I could coach the guys and so that it was comfortable once training camp started.
And this summer, it's about letting them get away and recharge their batteries and just getting refreshed.  So I'm leaving them alone.  An occasional text to some of the guys now and then.
But they're off having a great time as they should be.  The only thing I'll do is remind them that probably within a couple of weeks, time to start back to work in terms of strength training and conditioning and making sure they're prepared for camp.
But the turnaround does happen pretty quickly.

Q.  Are you aware and conscious of trying to keep from being consumed by being a coach?  You've seen how some coaches are ‑‑ 24/7, you know, nonstop and can never get away from it.  And you're still new to this.  Is that something that you are aware of and you kind of‑‑
STEVE KERR:  Yeah, I've talked to a lot of coaches and a lot of different sports.  That's one of the conversations that I've had with several of them is trying to maintain balance in your life.  And I do a pretty good job of that.
I don't sleep at the office.  I work hard but I don't drive myself crazy with the work.  And I think there's a balance that the whole team has to find.  Players and coaches.  Between the work and the fun and the enjoyment and not only being good at what you do but being a good dad, good husband that kind of thing.  Those things all contribute to a team's makeup.
I think the fact that we have guys who not only get along well but bring their families in, have young kids who will come on the road every once in a while, come to the games and go to the family room.
We've got our guys who are really committed to their kids and their wives.  That builds a stronger group, a stronger unit.  And I think that's the kind of group we have.
And it's one of the reasons we have the team that we do.

Q.  I'd like to get a comment or two about the championship run for the Santa Cruz Warriors and also if there's any level of disappointment that Steph Curry can't play in this tournament?
STEVE KERR:  First of all, the Santa Cruz Warriors had a great season, winning the title.  We take that very seriously, our relationship with our D League affiliate.
So we've had a great connection with Santa Cruz, with the coaches.  The coaches join us during training camp.  KC and his staff do a great job.  And they basically run the same stuff that we do offensively.  So that when we send a player down like McAdoo this year or Ezili a couple of times this year, they're able to go back and forth and be comfortable with the terminology and what we're running.  But I think it's all part of how strong our organization is.  We're building a strong D League team, building the continuity between the two franchises and then really having crossover between the coaching staff and the players as well.  So that's been very satisfying, and I'm thrilled for them that they had such a great year.
And then Steph, yeah, he's been here a couple of times.  He almost won this tournament two years ago.  He's a great golfer.  We've played together a couple times.
And he's fun to play with.  But Ayesha just gave birth a week ago, and he's got to be a dad first.  And that's always the path Steph takes.

Q.  When is the last time you got to cradle the trophy?  I'm assuming you didn't bring it with you.
STEVE KERR:  The last time was on the flight‑‑ no, actually at the parade on that Friday.

Q.  Is there somebody that's reached out to you to congratulate you that's maybe surprised you?  Or what's something that maybe caught you off guard that was pretty touching?
STEVE KERR:  The phone call from President Obama was amazing.  That was the day after the final game.  We were on the bus on the way to the Cleveland airport and Raymond Ridder, our PR guy, told me, he said, you should answer your phone.  It's going to be a blocked call, but you might want to answer it.  Somebody important is about to call you.
So I had a chance to speak with the president.  And Steph was sitting right next to me on the bus.  So I handed him the phone, and they had a chat for a little bit.
But that was just surreal.  And since then everybody I know pretty much has sent me an e‑mail, sent me a text or I've seen them in person.  That just doesn't get old.
I was just in Las Vegas for the summer league and everybody around the league is coming by and saying congrats and it's great stuff.

Q.  How did you throw your back out?
STEVE KERR:  Believe it or not, I actually hurt it standing up during Game 5 of the Finals.  I stood up and it just wrenched.  And probably the stress.  And it was actually okay for a couple of weeks.  And I thought I'd be fine.  I was moving around okay.
Then about two weeks ago I took a turn for the worse.  So I had to drop out of this tournament, which was really disappointing.  I love playing in this event.  But I'm excited to be here anyway and just be a part of it.

Q.  Can you still dunk?
STEVE KERR:  Could I ever?

Q.  Last year you started Iguodala, brought him off the bench every game until the finals.  What will this season look like?  Will you give some thought to maybe continuing with him in the starting lineup, or do you go back to what you did before or mix it up or you haven't decided?
STEVE KERR:  Well, I saw him at the postgame party in Cleveland, went up and said, congrats, MVP, you were incredible, what a job and you're going back to the bench next year.
And he laughed.  And I laughed.  Obviously kind of a joke.  But I don't anticipate changing anything.  We won 67 games with the group that we had.  And we've got our core back, just about everybody's back.  And more than likely we'll play it the same way.  But you never know how things go.  We'll see.  But the good thing is we're capable of playing a lot of different ways with a lot of different combinations, as we showed throughout the season.

Q.  The coach in Vegas, Gentry, is Walton a candidate or when will you make that call?
STEVE KERR:  We're in the process.  We're close to making that happen.  More than likely we will promote from within without going too much into detail.
But we've got a lot of very credible, productive people not only from the front of the bench but behind the bench so we can make internal moves.  That's the direction we're leaning.  But we have to firm everything up, which should be soon.

Q.  Were the Warriors inspired by the other athletic teams, of course the 49ers fell off a little bit last year but they've had much success, and then the Giants win it all.  Was there any inspiration there?
STEVE KERR:  Yeah, there's definitely inspiration from, not only teams in the Bay Area but other teams, other athletes.  I do a lot of that with our team.  I show highlights or clips of other sports, stuff that is inspiring to me that I think they would like and appreciate, maybe a great play here, there.  Doesn't have to be any particular team.  But I do think we take pride in the fact that the Bay Area sports scene has been pretty impressive the last few years.  The Niners have been so good, and obviously the Giants, three titles in five years, amazing.  A's were in the playoffs last year.  And it's a good time to be a sports fan in the bay.  And we're happy that we gave our fans a lot to cheer about this year.

Q.  From the Philadelphia area, on our conference press call from Charles I told him don't take a Philadelphia team.  So thank you for bringing the championship to the Warrior brand and there are people in the area as old as I am that remember Chamberlain and all the great Warrior players in Philadelphia.  Couple of years ago you sat next to Shane Battier after he won the championship, I believe you were in the booth then.  What was the process that led you to becoming a coach of Golden State?  And did you ever, when you were sitting next to Shane, think that, well, I'll be up here as an NBA champion coach?
STEVE KERR:  I knew I would be a coach when I was sitting up here with Shane a few years ago, whenever that was.  I was planning on it at the time.  The last few years I've been sort of preparing for a coaching position.
And the thing that I was really fortunate with was the opportunity to coach such a good team right away.  Normally, as a first‑year coach, you go to a bad team.  That's the reason that the job is open.
But this was a pretty unique set of circumstances.  And I was very fortunate to get this job and to be part of a great team right away.
So, yeah, it still seems crazy that we won the whole thing this year.  But it was thrilling and the exciting thing is we have a really good, young core and we feel we can be good for many years to come.  But we've got to go out and do it again.

Q.  I watched the 76ers as much as the pain will allow me.  Thank you for showing Andre the talent, bringing out the talent that he has, and it was nice to see him do well, obviously MVP.
STEVE KERR:  I was thrilled with Andre.  I know he spent a lot of time in Philadelphia, and he's played a lot of different roles in this league‑‑ usually a starring one.  But he's always been kind of a point forward who appreciates passing more than he does scoring.  And the role that he played in the Finals, going back to the starting lineup, guarding LeBron and actually becoming a scorer again and nailing all those 3s, just shows you how good he is and how versatile he is.
But I was thrilled for him because the sacrifice that he made at the beginning of the season set the tone for the whole team.  And it felt like everything kind of came full circle for him.

Q.  I asked Shane that day about head injuries, concussions for NBA players hitting the hardwood.  How did it affect Steph?  I think he took a pretty good pop on the floor I believe the round before, I'm not sure.
STEVE KERR:  Yeah, and then Klay as well.  Klay ended up suffering a concussion in Game 5.  Steph's was not a concussion.  They're very tricky, though.  They're tricky to detect.
I learned a lot about them during that series.  It's obviously not my area of expertise.  But Klay passed the concussion protocol during the game.  And then after the game he ended up with symptoms.
So it's tricky.  Even for the best doctors in the world, it's tricky.  So it's something that I know the union and the league is talking about and discussing, and obviously it's a very serious issue in all of sports.  But also in the NBA.

Q.  How does it compare to win a title as a player and now as a coach, how would you describe that?
STEVE KERR:  Well, it's equally as exciting and fun.  I guess what makes it a little different is that you're not‑‑ as a coach you don't shoot.  You don't dribble a ball.  You never play.  You never get on the floor.
But you just feel responsible for the group.  Not only all the players on the team, but the ownership and the fans and the other coaches, and you want so badly for everybody to do well.
And it's coach's job to try and put everybody in place to succeed, and it's very gratifying when the results come.  So it's a little different, but in the end you're still spraying champagne all over each other and it's exhilarating.

Q.  Without mentioning any names, do you worry about anybody, any of your guys maybe having too much fun in the offseason?
STEVE KERR:  You mean like Draymond?  (Laughter) oh, you said I didn't have to mention any names.  No, I don't worry about our guys at all.  They should be enjoying this.  It's incredibly rare and difficult to win a championship.
One thing with our guys is they work and they will understand that it's just going to be time to get back to work before too long.  So I tell them all they should take a good month and get away and not pick up a ball.  But a lot of them are already out shooting and working anyway, because that's what they do.
But the challenge will be there next year and our guys will be ready for it.

Q.  Saw Ray Lewis out here yesterday.  Looks like he's in really good shape.  Would he ever still be in the picture?
STEVE KERR:  Ray Allen?

Q.  Sorry.  I know there was some kind of interest last year at least some‑‑
STEVE KERR:  I don't know if he's going to play again.  The tricky part is now it's been over a year.  So by the time training camp starts it's a year and a half.
It would be interesting if he decides to come back and play.  Yeah, I mean, I think the whole league would be interested.  I'm not sure if I'm even allowed to comment on that.  I don't want to get fined.  But I think it gets really difficult at that age when you've sat out for that long to come back and make that transition.  So my guess is Ray's probably done but I would also think if he decides to come back, that there would be plenty of people interested.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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