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Golden State Begins Title Defense Without Kerr

Warriors WallpaperThe coach that guided Golden State to its first NBA title in four decades won’t be in the building when the championship banner is raised into the rafters.

Steve Kerr will be out indefinitely after he was forced to undergo a pair of surgical procedures on his back to prevent a rare spinal fluid leak over the summer.

Following surgery in July and early October, Kerr is still experiencing intense headaches, forcing him to take a leave of absence. 

During his first season, Kerr was able to transform the Warriors into the most complete team in the NBA.

Both as a team and individually, Golden State submitted the most dominant history in the 69-year history of the franchise.

The 67 victories the team managed was eight more than it has ever achieved. The Warriors ranked first in points per game, played at the fastest pace in the league, was statistically the most efficient defensive team and ranked second in defensive efficiency.

Point guard Stephen Curry received the most votes for the 2015 NBA All-Star game, won the 3-Point Shootout, set an NBA record with 286 made 3-pointers during the regular season, set the all-time post season record for 3-pointers made with 96 and was named league MVP.

Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr on the sidelines
NBA MVP Stephen Curry (left) and Golden State coach Steve Kerr (right) carried the team to the third title in franchise history.

Klay Thompson was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and in a controversial vote, forward Draymond Green finished runner-up to San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Prior to the 2014-15 season, Kerr had no previous coaching experience, but had his option of either coaching in Golden State or for the Knicks.

Kerr spent 14 seasons in the NBA as a player and retired as the all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage, knocking down 45.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

He won four consecutive titles, helping the Bulls to their second three-peat in the late 1990s, then winning a total of two more with the Spurs.

TNT hired Kerr to be the primary analyst alongside Marv Albert for its national broadcasts, until Phoenix appointed him general manager in 2007.

Following a three year stint with the Suns, he returned to the broadcast booth before being named as the replacement to Mark Jackson with the Warriors.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr is expected to miss the first road trip of the 2015-16 season
Golden State coach Steve Kerr expects to return to the sideline soon.

Jackson was coming off a 51-win season and after just three years with the team, had already tallied the fourth most victories and fifth highest winning percentage of any coach in franchise history.

The decision to let Jackson go was initially an unpopular one, even Curry was against the choice to replace him,

The 67 victories Kerr accrued was the most of any first year coach and he joined Paul Westphal and Bill Russell as the only rookie coaches to ever win 60 or more games in their debut season.

Kerr was able to achieve so much success by bucking against conventional wisdom.

He proved that a jump shooting team can win an NBA title, and his decision to start Green at power forward over the more experienced David Lee unlocked a small ball revolution.

Against the Cavaliers in the championship round, he countered the size of Cleveland by starting Andre Iguodala and benching center Andrew Bogut, the unquestioned anchor of the defense.

The decision not only lifted the Warriors to victory, Iguodala went on to be named Finals MVP.

A month after defeating Cleveland in six games during the 2015 NBA Finals, the 50-year-old Kerr underwent surgery to repair a ruptured disc in his back, leading to an unintentional nick of the dura, a pouch that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

A month after the first surgery, the medical staff was able to determine the proper diagnosis and underwent another procedure to stop the leak of spinal fluid.

In his absence, the Warriors will be coached by assistant Luke Walton. Kerr is expected to miss Tuesday’s season opener against the Pelicans, when the team receives their championship rings and place a championship banner in Oracle Arena.

Golden State then travels to Houston and New Orleans, a trip Kerr is not expected to make, but may be available next Monday when it hosts the Grizzlies.

Kerr was the vital addition to the Warriors championship run, and the team hopes its title defense without him is short lived.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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