Feb. 13 (UPI) — Steve Kerr recently handed off his clipboard to the Golden State Warriors and let his players coach themselves.
The Warriors’ coach began the new practice during the first quarter of a 129-83 rout of the Phoenix Suns Monday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
“I told them the other night, after the last game, that we were going to do it,” Kerr told reporters in his postgame news conference. “It’s their team. I think that’s one of the first things you have to consider as a head coach. It’s not your team …
“It’s then players’ team and they have to take ownership of it. As coaches, our job is to nudge them in the right direction. Guide them. We don’t control them. They determine their own fate. I don’t feel like we focused well at all in the last month and it just seemed like the right thing to do and I thought they communicated really well together and they drew up some nice plays and it was a good night for the guys.”
Kerr was manning the sideline before a timeout. He made some notes on his dry erase board before handing it off to veteran guard Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala then walked over and knelt down in front of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors’ bench and explained what they were going to do next against the Suns.
Later on in the game, it was Draymond Green’s turn to play coach. Green sat out for the contest because of a sprained left index finger, but was eager to tell his teammates a new strategy during another timeout.
“[Draymond] ran a play for me to alley-oop,” Omnri Casspi told reporters. “If he ran that as an NBA coach, I think he’d get fired. But I told him that I appreciate the support and the respect. I probably wouldn’t be able to catch it, but it was a good play with back-screen action. It was fun.”
Curry and David West also served short tenures as the Warriors’ coach. Curry scored a team-high 22 points and had nine rebounds and seven assists. West netted six points and had five rebounds and four assists.
Casspi scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds in the win.
“You kind of appreciate the process of being just a little more thoughtful when it comes to controlling the game and the game plan and locking in on tendencies of the Phoenix players and getting your mind right to play,” Curry said after the win.
After the game, some Suns players said they thought the strategy was disrespectful.
“It’s disrespectful,” Suns guard Troy Daniels told the Arizona Republic. “I don’t think it’s hard to coach those guys, though. So I think anybody can do it.”
Kerr, 52, owns a 251-52 record in more than three seasons as the Warriors’ head coach. He has reached the NBA Finals every year, winning two of the last three titles. The Warriors are 44-13 this season, but have never lost more than 15 games in a season during Kerr’s tenure.
“You can look at it two ways: You can say anybody can coach that team, or you can say it’s a [good method],” Suns star Devin Booker told ESPN. “I liked the move personally. If I was a coach, I’d do that throughout the year, so I wouldn’t even look at it as disrespectful.”
“I’m sure people are going to say it’s disrespectful, but I think Steve is an easygoing guy who has that relationship with his guys. But, if he didn’t have four All-Stars, I don’t think he’d be doing that.”