Multiple heroes emerged over the course of the Golden State Warriors‘ wild march back to their old perch as the class of the NBA. First and foremost, Stephen Curry deserves every bit of praise coming his way after he came back from a late-season injury to carry his team to the top of the mountain.
Then there was Klay Thompson returning to form after his 941-day vacation, Andrew Wiggins erasing whatever doubt remained about his game after a rocky start in Minnesota, Kevon Looney’s iron-man performance, Gary Payton II’s emergence, Draymond doing Draymond things and so on.
However, Steve Kerr’s performance as head coach — not just in terms of this particular playoff run but also in a historical context — warrants special mention.
Kerr had already been namechecked alongside playcallers like Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach as a top-15 coach all-time for the NBA’s 75th anniversary. But his latest championship win may have bumped him up near the top of the list.
At the very least, one of the greatest players in basketball history in Magic Johnson is moving Kerr up his own, personal chart.
Kerr Climbs the Mountain
On the morning after the Dubs’ championship-clinching win over the Boston Celtics, the Magic man took to Twitter with his updated Mount Rushmore of NBA coaches. And Warriors fans will undoubtedly give him a pass for having an extra name beyond the traditional four-person Rushmore, as Kerr made the cut.
“GSW Head Coach Steve Kerr is on my Mount Rushmore of NBA coaches with Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach and [Gregg] Popovich,” Johnson tweeted.
At this point, it’s hard to quibble with Kerr’s inclusion on this or any other best-ever coaching list. Over eight years as Golden State’s coach, Kerr has amassed a regular-season winning percentage of 68.2 — the fourth-best mark of all-time — and directed his club to six Finals appearances and four championships.
Going beyond the numbers, though, the former sharpshooter has developed a reputation for getting the most out of his players. Just ask them.
The latest Golden State Warriors news straight to your inbox! Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Dubs Sound Off on Coach Kerr
Few players have experienced the same kind of career resurgence we’ve seen from Wiggins since he made the move from the Twin Cities to the Bay Area. And after the Warriors raised their trophy, the former No. 1 overall pick left little doubt about Kerr’s role in the transformation.
“Man, you’re talking about one of the greatest coaches of all time. The way he challenges his players but supports them, it’s amazing,” Wiggins said postgame. “He gives his players confidence and he puts his players in position to succeed. So I’m definitely thankful for Steve Kerr.”
Looney echoed that sentiment.
“Coach means the world to me,” Looney said. “Had a lot of ups and downs in my career since I been here, being drafted here and to be able to be here for seven years and be able to learn from him, and he’s a guy, he always told me, ‘your opportunity is going to come, just take advantage of it when it does.’
“He’s a great mentor and coach for me and the whole team. Steve deserves a lot of credit.”