Something that has been noted since Steve Kerr was hired as the Golden State Warriors’ new head coach on Wednesday is that as of Thursday, no Warriors player had voiced any kind of public support or acknowledgment toward the hiring (Stephen Curry spoke to the San Jose Mercury News Thursday afternoon).
But still, the lack of welcoming from the players has not gone unnoticed, and Ric Bucher interviewed an anonymous Warriors player about it in a Bleacher Report article.
“That is out of loyalty to Coach Jackson,” said the player. “It has nothing to do with Steve. Just meeting him when he worked our games, he seems like a nice guy. It has to do more with how Coach was done. Guys loved Coach Jackson. They’d run through a wall for him. It hasn’t really set in that he’s gone and someone else has been hired.”
The Warriors fired Mark Jackson days after their season ended in a Game 7 loss to the Clippers in the first round. Then they hired Kerr, who has known owner Joe Lacob for years.
“Guys are going to look at it from a race standpoint,” the player continued. “It shows what this was all about when they cut him as quick as they did. Guys question, ‘Is this really about winning or is it about the way you want the place to look like?’ ”
The player also said that the pressure is on Kerr now to take the Warriors to the Western Conference Finals and beyond, since that was the bar set by Jackson.
“Coach Jackson changed the culture and this is how you do him?” he said. “If this is your loyalty to Coach, what’s your loyalty to me? I know it raised questions with all of us.”
Curry, the only Warriors player thus far to speak out about the recent developments, agreed with the decision to hire Kerr.
“I just want to see him build that relationship with the players,” Curry told the Mercury News. “To be able to get the most out of us. To challenge us. Pushing us to a higher level. And I don’t think he’ll have a problem with that. We’re in good hands. I’m not worried about that. He just has to develop his coaching style.”
Kerr has experience as a player, GM, and broadcaster, but has not coached a game in the NBA.
Regarding Jackson’s firing, Curry admitted that Jackson’s relationship with the front office “wasn’t as good as it seems. But that’s so far from my perception of coach and the reality I dealt with every day. From my dealings with him, I just don’t see him that way.”
There is no doubt that the pressure is now on Kerr to not only keep Curry happy, but also win the support of a locker room that is obviously unhappy with the decision to fire Jackson.