Golden State Warriors

Warriors welcome Steve Kerr to the sideline tonight, but the team grew in his absence

The walking talking deterrent to having back surgery … is back.

After spending the last four months holed up in a dark room watching Spurs tape while claiming that his spinal fluid was leaking, noted malingerer Steve Kerr will serve as the Golden State Warriors head coach once again tonight, against the Indiana Pacers.

It was an elaborate ruse by Kerr and the Warriors, who wanted to give their leader extra time to determine what it would take to beat San Antonio. And now Kerr will take what he’s learned and put it into action on Monday night, when the Spurs visit Oakland.

Kidding. Kidding! Seriously, just kidding.

Kerr’s injury sounded horrifying, with two different back surgeries not doing the trick and headaches not subsiding for so, so long. I’m never getting back surgery, and I had to quit running as my main form of exercise five years ago because the disc deterioration in my lower back is so bad. Thanks to Kerr for pointing me in the same direction my Russian neurologist did many years ago.

“You have … very bad back … for your age,” the doctor said. “But you want avoid surgery if possible. Risky.”

This means Luke Walton moves one seat over after leading the Warriors to a 39-4 start. The coolest thing about this for Walton — other than how many lucrative job offers he’ll receive after the season — is how the Warriors ended his tenure as interim head coach. They looked a little sleepy over a two-week stretch, and lost two games out of three (slackers). Then they demolished the Cavs and Bulls, on the road, by a combined score of 257-192.

The Warriors certainly aren’t in a worse state after 43 games than they were before the season started. In fact, even though Kerr was always there behind the scenes, it was clear that Walton and the team grew during the blonde guy’s absence.

What could possibly count as adversity to these Warriors, besides the kind of unfortunate off-the-court incidents this roster generally seems to avoid with grace? They’ve already won a title after falling behind 2-1 in two playoff series. Their NBA-record 24-0 start brought more media attention than the championship, and by the end every team they faced played with postseason-like intensity. They dominated without the brains of the operation — their ref-harassing, sarcastic quipping, turnover-phobic head coach — reminding them throughout games how and why they win.

The phrase “know how to win” carries negative connotations since it’s used so recklessly by narrative-starved sportswriters and broadcasters, but the Warriors are under that umbrella. However, it can’t hurt to have Kerr there when times and opponents (they haven’t played the Thunder yet, either) get tough.


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