Steve Kerr guided his Golden State Warriors to their second NBA championship in three years Monday night. The realization of that goal had to feel the sweetest for Kerr, who missed 11 games during the postseason thanks to complications from back surgery he underwent nearly two years ago. Now that he’s ascended the mountain top for the seventh time in his career — five titles as a player, two as a coach — Kerr needs to focus on his health. He should step down, take an executive position within the franchise and relax.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers says he has “no doubt” Kerr will be back on the sidelines next season. While that would be a tremendous story, it might be time for the 51-year-old coach to step aside for his own sake.
Kerr is as important to the culture the Warriors have built as anyone. They don’t win those two championships without his guidance. They never would have found that kind of chemistry without him. He whispers and that team responds. It’s his system, those are his players and it is undoubtedly his team.
Despite Kerr’s deep influence, that group performed phenomenally for interim coach Mike brown while Kerr was sidelined, going 11-0 and breezing through the Western Conference. The Warriors played well for Brown and they dominated under Luke Walton when Kerr missed the beginning of the 2015-16 season after his surgery.
Kerr has clearly demonstrated that he can run this team from behind the scenes. Why not take that step back permanently? It’s not like he would have to back away from the team or even lose his influence and connection to those players. Come to an agreement with Brown or another coach where Kerr would basically run the team, but someone else could man the sidelines on a nightly basis. Kerr could avoid the punishing road trips that can’t be good for his health, while also remove the nightly stress that has to be exacerbating his condition.
The last two years appear to have aged Kerr by 20. Despite the smiles and celebration last night, he looks appreciably older, worn out and appeared tired during press conferences this week. We all know he’s a competitor, but Kerr’s long-term health must come first.
If he is convinced he is 100 percent healthy and is willing, then yes, Kerr should return. But if that’s not the case, the man should think of his long-term health and step aside.