What A Championship Team’s Head Coaching Crisis Teaches Us About Teamwork

The Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr hasn’t been on the bench for the majority of the team’s perfect playoff run. But the team is still winning.

By Laura RiceJune 5, 2017 7:02 am,

The Houston Astros finished off the Texas Rangers with a three-game sweep that brings their winning streak to 10 games, and a 41-16 record overall. The Astros lead the majors, and at this rate, Texas Monthly reports they’ll finish with 117 wins. That would be more than any team in baseball history.

Speaking of dominance – after last night’s victory, the Golden State Warriors are up 2-0 in their NBA finals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors have been perfect so far in postseason play, even though they’ve been down a key figure for much of the NBA playoffs: their head coach.

Steve Kerr has been suffering from migraines and nausea, though he did take the bench last night to coach the team for the first time in more than six weeks.

But even without his physical presence, the Warriors have had no trouble winning. Do we just chalk this up to powerhouses Steph Curry and Kevin Durant? Or could there be something else to their continued success?

Daron Roberts has a theory. He’s the founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of “Call an Audible,” about his own transition from Harvard Law School to the NFL coaching ranks. He says Kerr’s coaching style, and good planning by the Warriors, have made their success without him possible, but that it’s still a notable accomplishment.

“I think it’s impressive that the Golden State Warriors have been able to win without the presence of their head coach,” Roberts says.

Preparing for Kerr’s possible absence from the team has helped the Warriors cope, Roberts says, and what they did offers lessons for people in business, or other team-oriented endeavors.

“You need to manage a crisis before it happens,” Roberts says. “When you look at the Warriors, they hired Mike Brown, who had coached for the Lakers and [was] head coach for the Cavs. And they brought him in as a guy who’s going to be number two, but has head coaching experience. They always had a contingency plan.”

Roberts says the groundwork laid by Kerr with his team has made his absence easier for the Warriors.

“If you listen to the players, whether it’s Curry or Durant, they talk about the fact that Coach Kerr doesn’t yell, he communicates, he talks,” Roberts says. “He is expressing over the course of the last three seasons his philosophy of how he wants this team to play.”

Roberts says Kerr’s communication style stayed with the team, even when he wasn’t coaching.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.