OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers fully expects Steve Kerr to find a solution to his debilitating health issues and return to the bench without being forced out of coaching altogether because of complications from two back surgeries.
It just might not be right away.
“Look, what he’s facing is fixable,” Myers told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “It’s just finding the issue and solving it. So I think that’s how you have to differentiate what he’s going through with somebody else. Some things are not fixable in life. Some things that confront people don’t have solutions. There is a solution here. We just need to discover it, and we will. I’m confident we will.”
The 51-year-old Kerr plans to be examined at Stanford this week and is away from the team until he feels well enough to return. He didn’t coach the NBA-best Warriors in Games 3 and 4 at Portland last week while dealing with headaches, nausea and discomfort in his neck.
“It’s not easy, but it’s not insurmountable. This one, we will overcome it. And those aren’t just words, that’s the truth. I wouldn’t put a time on it but that’s how I feel,” Myers said. “Certain diagnoses you are forced to accept entirely and know that there isn’t a solution. There is a solution for this, we’ve just got to find it.”
The Warriors have been inundated with emails from strangers offering names of doctors, ideas and advice on how to help Kerr, who is beloved as not only a coach but as an outspoken person committed to important and wide-ranging issues.
“We want him healthy for the rest of his life,” Kevin Durant said. “That’s what our main concern is. We’re not trying to get him healthy just so he can coach us in the playoffs. We want him healthy so he can live an everyday life as normal as he can.”
This is heart-wrenching for Myers. He and Kerr are close friends who talk every day, and not just about basketball. He supported Kerr when the reigning Coach of the Year had to miss the initial 43 games last season, including an NBA record 24-0 start.
“It’s so hard to separate that part from the Warriors basketball team,” Myers said, “because in any other profession it’s private and there’s not everyone in the community asking about it and you’re just concerned about that individual specifically. In this case it takes on a different life when it’s public and you’re just worried about someone as a human being, not as the Warriors coach, but as a friend.”
For now, top assistant Mike Brown is leading the way with an experienced coaching staff and veteran team as the Warriors wait to learn their next opponent — the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah — after sweeping Portland in four games.
Brown and Kerr are in constant communication, including after the Jazz took a 3-2 series lead with a win Tuesday night. Brown is prepared to coach the Warriors into the second round until Kerr is able to return.
“Steve’s going to be a part of this process all the time,” Brown said. “Really, almost before I do anything I’m going to consult with him. The only time I won’t consult with him is probably during the game, at least I don’t want the NBA to know I’ve got a little chip right here (in neck) that I can communicate with him in in-game situations. We’ll keep that among us.”
Because Kerr is so great about sharing the workload and taking all ideas and insights into account, the Warriors are in position to push forward during his absence — however long it might be.
“Steve sets such a solid foundation that it can withstand his stepping away in the interim,” Myers said. “It’s a testament to his leadership and his culture that he never made it about him. He made it about the players and the rest of the staff and set that template. And that’s what makes it sustainable, really. When you build a culture around one person, you risk more, I think, but when you share responsibility, when you share blame, you share credit, you share all of it, one person can step away and hopefully return and you can keep going.”
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