OAKLAND — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr returned to the sidelines and is coaching the Warriors for Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He hasn’t been on the sidelines since April 19.
Kerr received a standing ovation from the Warriors faithful and hugged Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue as he walked out to the court before the game.
Kerr addressed the media during a pregame news conference and said he knew Sunday morning he would give it a go. His intentions are to coach the rest of the series.
“The last couple weeks have been good in terms of running practice, film sessions, coaches’ meetings,” he said. “I wanted to string together a few good days. I did that, and I’m feeling well enough to coach, so I’ll be out there tonight.”
Kerr took a leave of absence after Game 2 of Golden State’s first-round series with the Portland Trail Blazers. He was experiencing painful migraines and nausea that were complications of back surgery he underwent nearly two years ago.
Assistant coach Mike Brown served as the acting head coach and had an 11-0 record in Kerr’s absence. The Warriors are 13-0 in the playoffs this year heading into Finals Game 2.
“That Mike guy did OK while I was gone, so that was good,” Kerr joked.
The Warriors wanted to give Kerr every opportunity possible to make a return. General manager Bob Myers was willing to allow his coach to come back on his own terms, even if it meant returning deep into the Finals.
Fortunately for the Warriors, he’s back after one Finals game.
“I’m excited and it’s good to be back,” Kerr said. “And my guys did OK while I was gone.”
At the time of his news conference, Kerr said he hadn’t informed his players of his decision.
“They probably already know because they’re all on their phones all the time,” he said.
He resumed traveling with the team during the Eastern Conference finals, a sign that his health was slowly improving. He underwent a procedure at Duke University in early May to help alleviate some pain. He said his health is back to what he’s been accustomed to this past year: good and bad days, with most days good.
Now Kerr is back, facing the very team that stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in last year’s Finals to steal a championship. It may not be the easiest welcome-back game, but the Warriors finally have their leader back at the helm.
“I’m trying not to get wrapped up in that because this is a Finals game, and it’s just about going out and trying to win,” Kerr said. “But it’s good to be back. This is what I love to do. I love being with the players and staff, so it’s fun to be back up here.”
Before the game, Lue said it’s good to have Kerr back on the sideline for the Finals.
The Cleveland coach said he had texted Kerr during the playoffs to send his best wishes while Kerr recuperated.
Lue said he has respected Kerr for a long time and is glad Golden State has its leader back.