BOSTON – After a career milestone was cleared, it was coach Steve Kerr’s turn at TD Garden on Friday.
With a 111-107 win over the Boston Celtics, Kerr recorded his 400th career coaching victory, becoming the third coach in Warriors history to hit the milestone at the fifth fastest pace in NBA history . It took Kerr 576 tries to win 400 games, a 0.694 regular season win that doesn’t account for the postseason success that resulted in four consecutive finals and three championships.
« It means I’m incredibly lucky to coach a number of talented guys, » said Kerr. “From my first game coaching in the NBA until now, I’ve only had talented teams. That’s just luck. I love coaching these guys, I love being part of it all with them and being very lucky. »
Only two Warriors coaches have won more games: Alvin Attles (557; 1970-83) and Don Nelson (422; 1988-95), and only four coaches in NBA history have won 400 wins faster: Pat Riley (540), Phil Jackson (557), KC Jones (564) and Billy Cunningham (572).
Right behind Kerr is his longtime friend and mentor Gregg Popovich, who needed his first 611 games with the San Antonio Spurs to record 400 wins.
The pomp of Steph Curry’s 3-point record Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden wasn’t lost to anyone, but it could have been an equally fitting location for Kerr’s milestone. Before he coached the Warriors in 2014, he almost teamed up with another longtime friend and mentor Phil Jackson at the New York Knicks.
Kerr turned down New York, however, to take the helm of a Golden State team that already had a core of Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. In a recent interview with Jon Stewart, Kerr said the reason is obvious.
« I’ve talked to my coaching friends and they all said the same thing, » said Kerr. “They said: ‘Your talent is everything in coaching’ and that’s true. I remember saying, ‘Well, Phil Jackson is my type.’ And one of my friends said, ‘What job do you think Phil would take?’ I said, ‘Oh, man.’ That kind of got me.
“Think about it, Phil Jackson will take the Bulls job when he’s got Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and he’s starting his career. Pat Riley takes over the Lakers job when he has Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. We all need talent as coaches and the Warriors have been good. ”
Kerr previously described himself as » happy « for stepping into the situation he was doing. The Warriors won 50 games in the season leading up to his arrival, but Kerr helped elevate the existing core to the greatest basketball dynasty of the 21st century.
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In Kerr’s first season, Curry won his first of two MVP trophies and the Warriors won their first NBA championship in 40 years. They reached the finals over the next three seasons and won two more titles. With a 24-5 start this season, they seem like strong contenders to add a fourth championship to Kerr’s résumé.
Eight years after Kerr chose the Warriors, the only party unhappy with the result is likely the New York Knicks, with five head coaches ransacked since then. Kerr believes the same fate would have befallen him.
« To be honest, if I had accepted the job at the Knicks, » he said, « I would have gone through this cycle and guaranteed to be gone in two years. »
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