OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr joked around on what became a post-mosh Monday, feeling some of the natural pressure before his Golden State Warriors get going at last with all the weight of trying to win another NBA championship on their star-studded shoulders.
The reigning NBA Coach of the Year said he cut short practice given Kevin Durant’s jostling in the mosh pit at a Kanye West concert the previous evening.
“He got a great workout last night,” Kerr said with a smile.
Kanye performed at Oracle Arena, where KD will become THE show Tuesday night for the defending Western Conference champions. And MVP Stephen Curry, too, of course.
“We all have pressure. That’s a good thing,” Kerr said Monday. “The alternative is, ‘Maybe we can win 30 this year instead of 25.’ Who wants that? Unfortunately, a lot of the teams in the league have that, teams that are going through rebuilding stuff, and they’re trying to get where we are. So we’re in a really enviable position. We know how lucky we are to be together with this group. We understand the responsibility that comes with it, and that’s fine. It’s a good position to be in.”
A day away from his highly anticipated Warriors debut, Durant insisted he had no idea just how much daily interest Golden State would generate before the season even began.
How much Durant’s every move would be intently watched — whether it was his concert-going or riding the BART train to get around.
“I never had a chance to get to a show. I was always moving around, Olympics and traveling a lot,” Durant said of attending West’s show. “I’m glad he came through here. I was telling all my friends. I’ve always told them I wanted to get in a mosh pit. It was amazing.”
Durant had no concerns about anything going wrong with all those people in tight quarters.
“I’m covered, man. I’m covered by a higher power upstairs, no matter what happens,” he said.
Four months after squandering a 3-1 series lead and losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals to LeBron James and Cleveland, the Warriors are ready to start fresh without any thought on chasing the regular-season wins record they now hold at 73. They will host San Antonio and Kerr’s former coach and mentor, Gregg Popovich, on Tuesday night.
“It’s the Spurs, so it makes it even more fun,” Kerr said.
Golden State also will honor TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is fighting leukemia, with a special T-shirt for all fans at the opener.
Kerr has said all along Durant would need time to adjust.
“He’s light years beyond where he was three weeks ago,” Kerr said. “He’s embracing the chaos, for sure.”
With Durant and so many new players, Kerr still expects everything to take time before the Warriors really start clicking. Kerr wasn’t even on the bench for last season’s opener, missing the initial 43 games and a record 24-0 start while dealing with complications from a pair of back surgeries.
Next week might be even bigger for Durant, whose former Oklahoma City Thunder visit on Nov. 3. Golden State rallied from 3-1 down to beat OKC in the Western Conference Finals.
Durant’s departure was a big deal. It still is.
“I think they’re just looking for something to grab onto and make it a story,” Durant said. “We understand that. That’s one thing I actually didn’t understand coming in here. Everything’s going to be taken and used as a headline. It’s definitely a learning experience for me not used to all this coverage around a team. That’s just part of the job. That’s why we get paid the way we do and that’s why we are who we are as players. You’re kind of prone to criticism.”
New center Zaza Pachulia got a glimpse of the attention and hype surrounding the Warriors on media day last month.
He’s ready to embrace it.
“We take it as a compliment because it means you’re doing something right. It means you’ve got good talent here, it means that people want to know about you more than anybody else,” he said. “It’s a huge year for us, a big season, kind of what we expected with a lot of expectations, a lot of eyes on us.”