If coaches get too much of the credit and too much of the blame, the Golden State Warriors' turnaround between Games 3 and 4 of their second series against the Memphis Grizzlies was bound to be a case study in the phenomenon.
Going from a team that was without answers to one that managed to find itself in its moment of truth is unquestionably a testament to great coaching and player leadership, not only from a tactical standpoint but also from a psychological standpoint; after going 67-15 in the regular season and helping his team recover after two poor performances against Memphis, there shouldn't be much doubt about Steve Kerr's coaching acumen (and potential) at this point.
I thought Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski did a good job of capturing what Kerr did well in coaching Warriors franchise player Stephen Curry in particular in preparation last night's Game 4 win (although I'm personally even more interested in how Kerr worked with assistants Alvin Gentry and Ron Adams to prepare the team for the game, which strikes me as one of Kerr's biggest strengths). He knows how to work with his players to get buy-in, how to push the right buttons at the right time, and how to hold players to high standards while also showing them that he genuinely cares about their success.
There's no question that Kerr is the perfect coach for Curry.
And yes, all of that stands in contrast to what was reported about the Mark Jackson regime.
But after deeming this moment "vital for the growth of this Golden State franchise", Woj went pretty hard at Jackson.
In so many ways, Kerr has been perfect for Curry. He's held him to higher standards, pushed him to be sharper, streamlined and to pursue efficiency. Kerr won over Curry with preparation and purpose, leaving behind a failed coaching regime of empty rah-rahs and guilt-tripping.
Kerr has challenged Curry to be a defensive player, refusing to hide him. Most of all, Kerr has delivered Curry a genuine NBA offense - movement and misdirections. Before there was no structure, mostly isolation plays after isolation plays. As the Warriors' season teetered on Monday, Golden State rediscovered itself with hard-driving defense, resolved rebounding and the gift of the MVP's peerless shooting
What immediately strikes me as interesting about that is that even in a great moment for the franchise, people — fans and, apparently, media alike -- feel the need to continue to bring Jackson into it. Mark Jackson will inevitably cast a shadow over this franchise, in part because he's still doing color commentary for NBA games and in part because of the way in which he left the Bay Area. But at some point, it's just weird to a) continually bring him up just to b) call his coaching regime "failed".
Perhaps there's value in remembering the butterfly as we admire the caterpillar (or whatever), but if we are only acknowledging it to stomp on it we might as well leave it alone and devote our undivided attention to butterfly admiration.
We don't have to bother enumerating Jackson's accomplishments, but it's harsh to say his coaching regime "failed" -- Curry had two of the best years of his career to that point under Jackson and made his first All-Star appearance; the Warriors made consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in over two decades. Given the miserable state the franchise was in when Jackson (and Joe Lacob) arrived, some of that "empty rah-rah" stuff was valuable in changing the culture and bringing the team together as a winning unit.
None of this is to say I was a fan of Jackson's, but I'd rather just move on as we enjoy this run, however long it's meant to last.
Bottom line: we can credit Kerr for the team's turnaround this week without continuing to slam Jackson, even while understanding that Kerr is just the better fit and, yes, the perfect fit for Curry.
For more on the Warriors' Game 4 victory, check out our storystream.