Steve Kerr won't be returning to the Warriors' sideline until he's sufficiently recovered from an ailing back condition.
That should worry the entire Golden State organization.
After missing the Warriors’ 119-113 win in Game 3 against Portland, Kerr informed media of a health concern dating back to Game 2 in Oakland. The pain was so intense that he couldn’t bare to watch the game in his hotel room. He is still consulting his doctors on what to do moving forward. Key injuries often decide a playoff series. This time we're not talking about Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, but the team's head coach.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported that Kerr's surgical procedure caused a spinal fluid leak that gives him excruciating symptoms such as migraines and nausea. "The symptoms, for whatever reason, took a turn for the worse maybe five days ago," Kerr told reporters. "I was able to manage the pain and discomfort over the last year and a half, and suddenly things got a lot worst and I don't know why."
The Warriors are constantly discussed as one of the most talented NBA teams in history. Steve Kerr is part of that talent.
He's created more than a system in Oakland. Kerr has cultivated a culture of winning and accountability. “It’s just his presence, his personality,” Shaun Livingston said of his coach. “His character, the way he fits in with us. He’s kind of the battery pack, in the sense that he makes everybody go. He keeps us all (in harmony), everybody from staff, training staff, coaching staff to the players."
Not only will Kerr's absence disrupt the flow of the team, but it will also affect game preparation for his assistants who have been promoted to fill voids.
It must be noted that Luke Walton took over the first 43 games of the 2015-16 season due to Steve Kerr’s back surgery leading them to a 39-4 start. This time around, Mike Brown will be the temporary head coach for the Warriors in the Playoff run. Brown coached a 2007 Cavaliers team that went to the Finals but he certainly isn’t a Steve Kerr.
Brown was primarily responsible for substitutions under Kerr. With the head coach out, that role will be divided amongst three assistants, Ron Adams, Jarron Collins and Bruce Fraser.
Fraser told “If you’re going to take the glass-half-full take on it, we all grew from last year’s experience. And Mike’s been in that chair and is really good at it. And we get to have Steve’s voice along with it all," Fraser said.
Kerr is a fierce competitor and being sidelined must be very difficult for him. The status of Kerr's health goes beyond this season's playoffs. Consider the fact that Durant and Curry are heading into free agency after this season, the prospect of Kerr's tenure being cut short could impact these signings.
For now, if the Warriors advance to the NBA Finals, and they should, a coach of Steve Kerr's caliber is needed to game plan no matter who they face. Especially in a matchup with LeBron James.