Steve Kerr Wins 200 Games Faster Than Any Other N.B.A. Coach

Mar 29, 2017 | by Benjamin Hoffman, nytimes.com

It was just another day at the office for Steve Kerr.

Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, took his team on the road Tuesday night to face James Harden and the Houston Rockets, and he walked away with a 113-106 victory. It was the eighth consecutive win for the Warriors, and the team’s 60th of the season. More notably, it was the 200th win of Kerr’s career, in only 238 games.

Needless to say, that is a record.

It may be early to celebrate milestones in a career that has yet to reach three complete seasons, but consider how long it took some other coaches to reach 200 victories. Don Nelson, the N.B.A.’s career leader with 1,335 coaching victories, needed 367 games to get to 200. Lenny Wilkens needed 424. George Karl needed 417, Gregg Popovich 333, Red Auerbach 324 and Pat Riley 289. Even Phil Jackson, with his 11 N.B.A. championships and .704 career winning percentage, needed 270 games, or 32 more than Kerr, to become a 200-game winner.

Kerr, a key player on several of Jackson’s best teams, would be the first to admit he was helped by a talented roster.

“I know how lucky I am,” Kerr told reporters after Tuesday’s win. “Most first-time coaches don’t inherit Steph Curry and Draymond and Klay and all these guys,” he said, referring to Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

That should not diminish his role in improving a team that had underachieved under Mark Jackson. Kerr delivered the franchise’s first 60-win season upon arrival, won an N.B.A. title and followed up by setting the league’s single-season wins record (73). He now has as many 60-win seasons (three) as Jerry Sloan (in 26 years) and Karl (in 27). Wilkens never won 60.

Jackson was in a plum situation, too, when he took over the 1989-90 Chicago Bulls, who had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant and then won three consecutive titles starting the next season. Riley was in a similar boat, taking over a loaded Los Angeles Lakers roster that featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Norm Nixon and Jamaal Wilkes.

Kerr’s win total was aided last season by Luke Walton, now the Lakers coach, who filled in as Kerr dealt with back issues. Walton led the Warriors to a 24-0 start and a 39-4 record over all. But while the N.B.A. determined Walton had done enough to win a Coach of the Month Award, it also declared that Kerr, who worked with the team behind the scenes while dealing with his back, deserved credit for the victories.

Kerr’s start has been fantastic, but no one knows what the future holds. Jackson coached for 20 seasons, and Riley for 24, but Billy Cunningham, who led the Philadelphia 76ers to a title in 1982-83 and is third in career winning percentage, behind Kerr and Jackson, lasted only eight years before retiring to become a broadcaster. Regardless of where he ends up, Kerr is off to the best three-season start of any N.B.A. coach. And he does not appear to be slowing down.