Steve Kerr said Steph Curry was okay coming off the bench to begin the playoffs and even joked about it.
Though Kerr offered Curry a chance to start again, Curry stayed on the bench to help the team.
Kerr praised Curry’s humility, saying it might have been an issue for other NBA players.
According to Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry turned what would have been a problem for other NBA stars into a running joke.
Curry came off the bench for the first four games of the Warriors’ first-round series against the Denver Nuggets. Curry was playing on a minutes limit as he returned from a foot injury that had kept him out since March, forcing him to miss the end of the regular season.
Speaking on “The Lowe Post” podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Kerr said after the first two games against the Nuggets, he told Curry that he could return to the starting lineup if he wanted.
“I go to him, I’m like, ‘Steph, if you want to start — you’re Steph Curry, you get to start if you want.'”
“He’s just matter-of-fact: ‘We’re playing great, Jordan [Poole] is in a great groove, we’re up 2-0, let’s keep going. Let’s keep going with this.'”
Kerr said that during starting lineup introductions the next game, he turned to Curry and joked that if he worked hard, one day he could start in the NBA playoffs.
Kerr said Curry ran with the joke.
“The next several days as he’s practicing and working, he’s like, ‘Look at me, Coach! Look how hard I’m working! I deserve this. I know I can do this!'”
Curry came off the bench until Game 5. He scored 30 points in his return to the starting lineup, helping the Warriors finish off the Nuggets to advance.
“He was perfectly content coming off the bench,” Kerr said, adding: “That’s Steph. What might be a serious issue with other players, it turned into a complete joke for him, where it’s like, we’re laughing at it.”
Curry, of course, started from then on, helping the Warriors make the NBA Finals. He delivered a historically great Finals performance to help Golden State win its fourth championship in eight years while he took home his first Finals MVP.
Kerr told Lowe that during the trophy ceremony, he took a moment to tell Curry that the Warriors’ success was only possible because of him.
“I just shared with him how much he has meant to me,” Kerr said. “And basically what I told him is that as great as everyone has been with the Warriors from ownership to front office to coaching staff to great players coming through here, All-Stars — this has all been built on him.
“Like most dynasties. I mean, the Spurs were basically built on Tim Duncan. And the Lakers were built on Magic Johnson, the Celtics were built on Larry Bird, Bulls on Michael Jordan. Taking nothing away from all the great players and coaches and GMs and ownership, people that contribute to all this, but there is usually one transcendent star that is the reason for these dynasties or runs or whatever. That’s what I shared with him: that he’s basically the reason that this has all happened.”
Speaking to Lowe, Kerr called Curry one of the most influential players in NBA history for the way he has helped popularize the three-pointer and shifted offensive and defensive schemes as a result.
However, Kerr said what stands out about Curry is humility and how it translates to leadership.
“It’s literally every single day that you feel that humility, just the way he carries himself and celebrates others’ success,” Kerr said. “The other players feel his joy for them and their success, and I think that’s a big part of it.”