Steve Kerr is returning to the sidelines and feels well enough that he plans to coach the Golden State Warriors for the remainder of the NBA Finals.
He is returning to the bench for Sunday night’s Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers to coach the Warriors for the first time in more than six weeks.
Kerr said he decided Sunday morning that he is able to return to coaching after being sidelined by constant pain because of complications following back surgeries.
“The intention is to coach tonight and the rest of the series,” said Kerr, who was last on the bench April 19 for Game 2 of the Warriors’ first round playoff series against Portland. “I’m feeling better. I’m feeling more like I did at the end of the regular season. Last couple weeks have been good in terms of running practice, film sessions, coaches meetings, that kind of stuff. I wanted to string together a few good days. I did that, and feeling well enough to coach. … The intention is to go the rest of the series.
“So, I’m excited and it’s good to be back.”
The unbeaten Warriors had been 11-0 under acting coach Mike Brown – “My guy did OK while I was gone,” Kerr said, smiling – with Kerr sidelined. He had back surgeries in 2015 after the team’s championship in his rookie season as coach.
“What’s our record now without me, like 800-12?” quipped Kerr, who missed the initial 43 games during last season’s record 73-win campaign.
The 51-year-old Kerr underwent a procedure to repair a spinal fluid leak on May 5 at Duke University but was still experiencing debilitating symptoms such as pain and headaches. He attended the pregame news conference Sunday and said he had not yet told his players that he would be back coaching, though said they knew in recent days that he was improving.
“It’s awesome,” Klay Thompson said. “I’m so excited. Mike did a phenomenal job though.”
The Warriors have a 1-0 lead against LeBron James and the Cavs.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was thrilled to hear Kerr would be back on the opposite bench.
“Steve Kerr’s a guy I respected even before he started coaching,” Lue said. “I just like who he is as a person, and throughout the course of the playoffs I’ve checked on him and we text and talk. So it’s good to have him back over there.”
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report