Steve Kerr didn’t get to be where he is — way on top of the NBA heap — by being careless. No, the Golden State Warriors coach who owns multiple records for coaching wins and efficiency so early in a career is a cautious man. His Warriors, winners of 3 out of the last 4 NBA titles, are so dominant that sometimes they have to fight among themselves to make things dramatic and interesting. This year Kerr has had to contend with a short-lived Draymond Green – Kevin Durant feud that saw Green inform KD “we don’t need you, we won without you.”
Maybe the lingering sting from that dust-up is what has Durant playing so angry this year, becoming nearly his teammate Green’s equal in the technical foul department. You wouldn’t think the former NBA MVP Durant has much reason to be angry — the Warriors almost always win and he can do pretty much whatever he wants on a basketball court.
But in Game 1 against the Sacramento Kings, Durant got into it repeatedly with roustabout instigator and defensive wiz Patrick Beverley. KD got T’d up and kicked out. Kerr described it succinctly: Durant, he said, took the bait. “You cannot,” Kerr said, “take the bait.”
But that’s about all Kerr would say about Durant’s seemingly mounting anger. Kerr himself, as if to lead by example, refused to “take the bait” reporters dangled in front of him hoping he’d comment on Durant and his new fury. And if Durant was furious after Game 1, just imagine what’s brewing inside the big forward after Game 2, which the Warriors unaccountably lost after being up by 31 points at home. Again, Kerr refused to take the bait, saying of Durant’s performance only that “he had a tough night.”
There is a lot of bait offered up in the NBA playoffs. Kerr won’t take it, but will Durant keep swallowing?
[Kerr on Patrick Beverley: “We talked about it the last couple days. He’s a hell of a defender who plays hard. We have a lot of respect for him. But you cannot take the bait because that’s a bad trade for us. You just can’t do it. The Clippers have made a lot of good trades this year, and that was maybe their best.”]