Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr has had quite the busy summer: he joined Team USA as an assistant coach for the FIBA World Cup, which sent him abroad for one month, and after arriving back in the United States has just a few weeks to prepare for the fast-approaching NBA season.
So what did Kerr take-away from his time with Team USA, and what is next for him with training camp just around the corner?
Kerr recently sat with Howard Beck, Senior NBA Writer from Bleacher Report, to discuss these topics and more, including working under Team USA Head Coach Gregg Popovich, the strength of international teams in the FIBA World Cup and the changes he must prepare for with new faces on a more youthful Dubs roster for the 2019-20 season.
On why he wanted to join Team USA as an assistant coach:
“The reason I wanted to do it was to be an assistant coach for [Gregg Popovich] — that appealed to me. I played for him for four years and learned a ton from him, and he’s become a great friend and a mentor, so when he called and asked, ‘no’ was not even an option… it was everything I had hoped it would be experience-wise.”
On what Kerr took away watching Popovich:
“He was so animated, so excited about the day, the plan, the next step, about how we were going to teach these guys in a short period of time, what we needed to get across… When you coach with somebody, you might pick-up a play or a drill or something, but with Pop it’s more the process: You just get to see him in action and how he treats people… within the first few days, players have this unbelievable respect for him, but also a great friendly relationship with him because he genuinely cares about them, and players feel that.”
Was there anything Kerr picked-up from Popovich he could use for the Dubs:
“He’s very innovative and one of the things I always loved about Pop… was how interested he was in the world around him besides basketball… he actually had geography quizzes for the players… a player would have to come up and point out on the [blank] map where the Czech Republic was… Stuff like that to me is what coaching is all about: how you connect with players away from the game.”
On adapting to the new Warriors roster and players:
“I’m excited, and I think everyone is excited… the idea of putting all of this together and building a newer version of ourselves, even though it’s daunting, it’s exciting.”
On if the Dubs will need Stephen Curry to be “MVP Steph” next season:
“Yeah, but I think we’ve had that every year for the last five years… Steph is just Steph: he changes every game, he changes every possession just by being him… so when I say we need Steph to be ‘MVP Steph,’ all that means is we need the same guy he’s been for the last five years: this dynamic, unbelievable basketball player who is a humble and modest leader in the locker room, who makes this great connection with our fans, and whose teammates and coaches love competing with.”