'Lucky' Steve Kerr makes history with his 200th win in just 238 games with the Golden State Warriors
Wind them up and let them play. Roll out the balls onto the court. Show up at the arena on time and make sure the lights are turned on.
It’s easy to say that it’s easy to pile up wins when you the coach the star-studded roster of Golden State. Maybe not quite so easy to do when in an era of high-strung personality, sensitive egos and social media running amok, sometimes an act not unlike juggling chainsaws.
Nevertheless, Steve Kerr got to 200 wins faster than any coach in North American sports history with the Warriors’ Tuesday night win at Houston.
“I know how lucky I am,” Kerr said. “Most first-time coaches don’t inherit Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andre (Iguodala) and Klay (Thompson) and those guys. I inherited a hell of a team and they were already really good.
“Our whole goal when this coaching staff came together was to continue the upward trend that the Warriors were already on. I’m lucky. Coaching is all about the guys you coach. Are the coachable? Are they talented? And the answer to that is an emphatic yes. These guys are really amazing.”
It took Kerr just 238 games to get his 200th win, shattering the previous record of 270 games set by Phil Jackson with the Bulls (1990-93). The Warriors have also become the sixth team in NBA history to win 60 games in three consecutive seasons. Prior to Kerr, the franchise had never won 60 in its previous 68 years of existence. Golden State’s 91 road wins over the last three seasons are also the most ever by an NBA team in a three-year span. There was an assist from former assistant coach Luke Walton, who guided the team to a 39-4 mark when Kerr missed the first half of last season due to complications following back surgery.
“Like he was in his playing days, he’s had great composure,” said Thompson. “In the years that I’ve been coached by him, because he was such a great shooter, he knows how to deal with players on their ups and downs. He has a brilliant mind for the game and congrats to him. It’s a phenomenal feat. Hopefully, not the last to come.”
The fastest to 200 wins in the other American pro sports leagues:
MLB: Cubs manager Frank Chance in 272 games
NFL: Coach Don Shula in 282 games
NHL: Penguins coach Dan Bylsma in 316 games
Kerr took the core of a roster that had been assembled under coach Mark Jackson and won 23, 47 and 51 wins, refined the offense using ball action, screening and assortment of different playmakers throughout the lineup and turned it loose.
“I know how lucky I am. I inherited a hell of a team and they were already really good.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr
“Like anything else, the more you do something, the more learned, the more comfortable you get,” Kerr said. “I think we’re all constantly evolving. I played for Pop (Gregg Popovich) for five years and he, Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach are probably the three greatest coaches of all time. Watching Pop evolve.
“Watching our teams in San Antonio evolve as the league has changed, as our personnel changed, I think that’s what coaching is about. You can have a formula, you can have a plan, but you have to adapt to what your team looks like, what your team looks like and I was fortunate. I played for some other of the greatest coaches of all time — Lenny Wilkens, Lute Olsen. I’ve been really lucky. Not only with my mentors, but with the players that I’m fortunate enough to lead.”
As good as they are, the Warriors are like a high-strung group of thoroughbreds. Last season, Green erupted in an angry fury full of expletives at halftime of a high profile game at Oklahoma City that was directed at Kerr. Earlier this month, when Kerr chose to sit Curry, Thompson, Iguodala and Green for a national TV game at San Antonio, Iguodala stirred the pot by aiming a few racially insensitive remarks in the coach’s direction. In both cases, and others not so publicly seen, Kerr has deftly managed the locker room.
Even on Tuesday night, in the aftermath of the accomplishment, Iguodala couldn’t resist.
“He’s a great guy and he deserves it,” Iguodala said. “That’s not honestly what I think, but that’s what I’m going to say. You have some good players and you’re going to win a lot of games. You have to be able to coach. There’s a good balance.”
Curry won back-to-back MVP awards in Kerr’s first two seasons in charge.
“He’s obviously persevered on and off the court with things he’s had to deal with,” Curry said. “He obviously came into a great situation with the talent we had, but he changed the way that we approached the game and we’ve been off and running since. He took charge and it’s been a great journey with hopefully a lot more to come.”
Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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