USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick discusses Game 1 of the Western Conference final and the issues the Spurs would face against the Warriors if Kawhi Leonard were to miss time with an ankle injury.
USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND – Steve Kerr was standing inside the hallways of Oracle Arena on Sunday.
And that, surreal though it might sound, was a good sign for anyone who knows what the Golden State Warriors coach has been going through of late.
It’s been almost a month since Kerr took a leave of absence for a second time with the health problems that all stem from the ill-fated back surgery he underwent two summers ago. One day he was there, leading the Warriors to a Game 2 win in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers. Then he was gone, with top assistant Mike Brown taking over ever since Game 3 on April 19 while Kerr has tried to regain his health and happiness.
But while Kerr has been around the Warriors facilities lately, talking to players and coaches while taking frequent sitting breaks to settle the symptoms that continue to plague him, the ABC footage of him addressing the team in the locker room at halftime of Golden State’s Game 1 win over the San Antonio Spurs was a sight for sympathetic eyes. After all, he wasn’t well enough to attend Game 3 or Game 4 of the Warriors’ second-round series against the Utah Jazz.
Still, Warriors officials offered only measured optimism when it comes to the uncertain timeline for Kerr’s return.
“Get your poise back,” Kerr, who underwent a spinal cord leak procedure on May 5 at Duke University to attempt yet again to alleviate the symptoms, told his players from his seated spot next to Brown. “Wings, run like crazy, just settle a little (and) get three stops in a row. Let’s get three stops in a row, and then the push will come from that. The pace will come from that. Settle in. We’ll be alright.”
Kerr even made the rounds afterward, standing in the hallway and talking with Warriors owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers after their team rallied from a 25-point deficit to seize early control of the series.
“He’s been around, other than last week with Utah (for Games 3 and 4),” Warriors forward David West said. “He’s been in here. He’s not obviously out front so you guys can see him, but he’s been at practice. His voice has never … gone away. He’s still our head guy. He’s still our leader, just trying to put us in a position to be successful.
“(His message was) the same as he usually talks about. His points, and making sure we’re working toward our strengths. He had some critique of us in the first half, and we went out and executed better in the second half.”
Added Warriors small forward Matt Barnes of Kerr’s halftime message: “It was good. He didn’t say much. He’s always short and to the point. But just to hear him back in here, knowing what he’s going through, means a lot to our team … It was good to hear his voice, and hopefully we can get him back soon too.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick on Twitter @Sam_Amick
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