Monday, January 25, 2016

Welcome Back Coach Kerr

Perhaps you remember the 2004 comedic drama "Sideways." IMDB gives an appropriate summary:
Miles is a failed writer living a meager existence in San Diego as an English teacher. With his career seemingly fading and the fate of a book hinging on a publisher's decision, Miles is depressed with himself and what he hasn't achieved. Jack is a television actor whom some recognize but not many do, as if he were a minor actor who got a taste of success. With his best friend Miles, the two embark on a road trip through California's wine country. Miles wants to give his friend a nice sendoff before married life, while Jack simply wants to have a fling beforehand. As they're both nearing middle age with not much to show for it, the two will explore the vineyards while ultimately searching for their identities.
The viewer can't help but wonder if Jack really could or  should commit to anyone or anything . Sitting in a restaurant, he turns to Miles (Paul Giamatti) and shares a thought that made me laugh out loud. Jack said, "Speak for yourself. I get chicks lookin' at me all the time. All ages. Dudes too."
It might be inappropriate, but sitting in Oracle Arena for the long-awaited return of Warriors head Coach Steve Kerr on Friday night,  I couldn't help but think of that line. Male or female, single or married, gay or straight—it's hard not to have feelings for Coach Kerr. And that was more than evident in his first game since the championship game he coached and won on June 16, 2015

I have never seen so many fans in their seats for the starting line-up as I did on Friday night. Quite often, they linger in one of the in house, club areas (myself included); they was nearly vacant long before tip off.

Greeted by a full house and a standing ovation, the welcome back loomed long and loud. Warriors faithful were ready and willing to extend their gratitude to a man who make the team's first championship in 40 years a reality. But given the success of interim coach Luke Walton, 39-4, the second-best record through 43 games in NBA history, 
I think it's only fair to raise the question: To what degree is Kerr responsible for the success of the Golden State Warriors. 

I don't know that I am prepared to answer that question like others can, but I do believe that the success of any team or program is never contingent on one person. And with regard to the Warriors, it's not hard to see from the top down, this is an organization that is doing things right.  

The owners have a made a noticeable commitment to winning. For example, seeing Joe Lacob and Peter Guber at court side seats as opposed to a perch known as the "owners box" speaks to me. Furthermore, even with Kerr at the helm, it's interesting to see just how many people comprise the Basketball Operations of any pro squad. As listed on the Warriors website,  today's team is supported by a General Manager and two assistants, three assistant coaches, two player development coaches and the list goes on. But leadership isn't only in the front office or limited to those in suits. Even among the players, certain athletes are named captain. For the 2014-2015 season, Stephen Curry and Andre Igoudala served in this honorary role. Their performance in the NBA finals reflected why that choice was a good one.

Yet, even in their absence Coach Kerr made his impression as only he can and he should. As written by Monte Poole in "Kerr's fingerprints on 'everything' for Warriors, it's valuable to consider
With the Warriors on the precipice of making history – becoming the first team to win its first 16 games – Kerr sensed they might be a bit on edge. So he restated the four tenets he instilled upon taking over 18 months ago. 
“The first one, and the most important one, is joy,” interim coach Luke Walton said, recalling the morning session. “He wants us having fun. It’s a long season. This game is meant to be fun. So there’s joy. There’s mindfulness. There’s compassion for each other and for the game of basketball, and then there’s competition.
Coach Steve Kerr has built a team that is built on cornerstones of joy, mindfulness, compassion and competition. No wonder we have feelings for him. I believe if I live my own life following those tenets, I too will find excellence.

Welcome back, Coach.

Photo Credits
Coach Kerr
Owners Win Too
Kerr and Walton

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