Steve Kerr's Absence: The True Test Of A Leader

May 16, 2017 | by Chris Ballard,

Instead of a suit, Steve Kerr wore a baggy gray sweatshirt, the kind your dad might throw on to clean the garage. Rather than stand, he sat off to the side of the room, an observer in his own realm. Still, he was back at a Warriors game on Sunday for the first time in weeks, watching the opener of the Western Conference finals from the Golden State locker room and briefly addressing the players at halftime, a man unable to stalk the sideline but willing to settle for proximity. It’s now been almost a month since Kerr left to deal with ongoing complications from 2015 back surgery and, while team officials are optimistic he will coach again at some point, he remains out indefinitely.

One element of his absence is worth dwelling on, though. Here is a man who owns one of the highest winning percentages in league history, who has been named NBA Coach of the Year, and who has become so popular that there is a movement—increasingly less facetious—for him to run for office. In theory, the Warriors should be lost without him. And yet, they literally have not lost without him. Without Kerr, Golden State finished off Portland, swept Utah, and, most recently, pulled out Sunday’s 113-111 comeback win over the Spurs.

Which means that over the span of two seasons, and a pair of interim coaches—first Luke Walton and now Mike Brown—Golden State is now 46-4 without Kerr.

How are we supposed to make sense of this? How can a coach be both essential and unnecessary?

Let us investigate the possible theories and clues, starting with …

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