Coaches Corner: Steve Kerr
Steve Kerr, who has won three NBA championships as head coach of the Golden State Warriors and won five NBA titles as a player, has an extensive background with USA Basketball both on the court and on the sidelines.
His career with USA Basketball started as a player on the 1986 USA World Championship Team that captured gold. He was a finalist for the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team and helped the 1988 USA Select Team to a 6-0 record in a European Tour. As a coach, he served as assistant coach for the 2019 USA World Cup Team and is slated to be on the sidelines for the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
USA Basketball spoke to Kerr to gain some insight and perspective on coaching.
During this time, what type of coaching duties are you doing every day?
We have been in touch with our players and coaches, and we are more in the mode of preparing for next season. I am doing more work for the draft than I have done in the past. I am scouting draft prospects, doing free agent work, watching tapes of free agents and helping the front office with some of their projects.
It is something I have never done before, so I think part of this whole pandemic for all of us is embracing the change and how different everything is and taking on some new challenges and learning to adapt.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your coaching career?
To be myself and to understand what that means. You can't try to be someone else when you coach, even if you admire another coach. You can't try to be that person. You can only be yourself, so you have to really know who you are and what is important to you. Then those values have to really translate to the way you coach.
Is there an over-arching principle or emphasis you try and instill within all of your teams?
I think there is the emphasis of competitiveness. We have to understand that this is all about competition at this level. Winning is the name of the game.
The more a player wins, the more satisfaction he is going to take from the game. As we teach players how to become professional and show the things he needs to work on, it is all done under the idea of, "We are going to compete like crazy."
We are going to compete, and we always talk about the joy that comes with the game and finding that balance. We want to work hard and compete like crazy and try to win at everything, but to also never lose sight of the fact that we all started playing the game because we loved it when we were kids, and we shouldn't lose that.
What is the most important characteristic you work to develop in your athletes?
I think for us, it is really teaching them how to be professionals. We get a lot of young players, especially this year, and the NBA game is very different from the college game. It is an opportunity for us to share a lot of insight with these young guys on what makes a professional player; What kind of work ethic and habits they need to have. Our job is really to help them become the best players they can be. So, helping them to understand the work ethic and habits that it takes to really be a good professional. That is what our job is.