Steve Kerr constantly wondered whether he would still be able to get back to coaching, what with all the health issues hounding him for months now.
The head coach of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warrior was sidelined during the start of the season, missing the first 43 games due to back surgery complications on July last year. During his almost four-month leave of absence, assistant coach Luke Walton replaced Kerr on an interim basis.
But on Tuesday, he was declared NBA Coach of the Year, after leading the Warriors to a record 73-win season, outshining the Chicago Bulls’ formidable 72-10 feat in 1995-96 which he also played for.
As the Golden State prepared for Game 5 against Houston for Wednesday’s playoffs, Kerr issued a statement: “There were moments I didn’t know if I would get back at all this season. I’m really thankful I improved to the point where I could coach. Coaching has actually helped considerably as I’ve continued to heal. I sort of had to just take a leap of faith. If I was going to wait until I felt great I would have been waiting all season.”
As reported by NBA regarding Steve Kerr’s COY award, 130 media members gave 64 first-place votes for Kerr. In a relatively close voting, Terry Stotts of Portland came in at second place, while the third ranking went to San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
As reported by Associated Press on ESPN, Warriors general manager Bob Myers only has high admiration for the head coach. “You deserve this award. You don’t deserve it for winning, in my opinion, 73 games. You deserve it for coming to work every day with how you had to feel,” he said as he fought back tears.
During Kerr’s comeback, the Warriors’ season ender was at a 39-5 mark, which eventually came to a record-breaking 73 wins for a single season, an accomplishment long held by the ’95-96 Chicago Bulls. This made the Warriors the No. 1 overall seed during the start of the postseason with a home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and Finals.
The Warriors are beaming with pride when Kerr received the prestigious award, and they are hoping it would boost their lucky streak towards earning another title this year. Currently, Golden State has a commanding 3-1 victory against Houston Rockets in its best-of-7 series.