This is the transcript of a real conversation I had with Fake Steve Kerr. It was great to hear him with his guard down, firing off the cuff, and this is in no way completely fictional.
Q1. Why did you play Anderson Varejao in freaking Game 7 of the 2016 Finals?
Okay, first of all, we coaches make 10 decisions a minute in a game. Who to play, what call to make, what coverage to change. We’re going to get a lot of these wrong. We just do the best we can, and we get paid the big bucks to answer all your second-guessing questions.
I notice you didn’t answer the question.
Man, I thought I got away with that one. Okay, look, we couldn’t just play the small lineup 48 minutes, okay? It just wears them down. We tried that at the end of Game 6, and you could tell, they made a run and then faded. Stephen Curry even lost control of his mouth guard. And Andre Iguodala was playing on one hamstring ... Steph had no explosion off the injured knee.
So we needed some big guy just to absorb minutes. Now, Andrew Bogut was out. He wasn’t having a good series, and he kept rambling on about conspiracy theories in the locker room — but he is still a decent center. So I just didn’t have anyone left! Mo [Speights] can’t block a shot or stay with a small driver. And Festus Ezeli was terrified they were gonna Hack-A-Festus. But I had to try to steal a minute with him, and a minute with Andy.
Anyway, if Klay or Steph hits a shot in the last three minutes, people aren’t giving me crap about this. Or if, instead, I do run out the small lineup all Q4 and they bonk, then people are gonna flay me for not trying Festus or Andy. When you lose, you’re an idiot. When you win, you’re ... less of an idiot.
Just like 2017 Finals Game 3, I put Zaza out there extra minutes and he was muffing layups and fouling left and right. But we win, right, so I get to call it Strength In Numbers. Because it is.
Q2. Who’s a better coach, Popovich or Jackson?
They are both great coaches. Phil is the Egomaniac Whisperer. He gets role players to complement historic players and gets historic players to let role players complement them. He takes good teams and makes them historic. Pop is the master of maintaining a selfless atmosphere. He took a selfless atmosphere, set by David Robinson, and then Tim Duncan, and weaponized it into a basketball juggernaut.
I notice you didn’t answer the question.
What, I have to pick one winner? Is this American Idol? Okay, I think if a team has a star that buys into the Triangle, go with Phil. His teams peak higher than everyone else’s. But they all explode by the end with bitter feuding with management. Pop has been more flexible with his strategies, going from Thugball in the 2000s, to the Beautiful Game in early 2010s, [and] now to Iso ball. But even Pop won’t work with knuckleheads. One way or another, it always comes down to players who value winning over all.
Q3. This Q is from Brady.“Would you rather build a team starting with a star iso player, like Westbrook, or a ball-movement role player like Redick?”
Good question. The thing is, J.J. Redick is the ultimate off-ball role player. But, you can get 80% of Redick with players on the open market. Russell Westbrook has the endless motor and powerhouse drives. I think you have to start with the exceptional offensive talent, and then get them to buy into a system. When the team wins, everyone gets the credit, especially the stars.
Like with Phil, before Michael Jordan accepted the Triangle Offense, MJ was just “that athletic ball hog loser who didn’t make his teammates better.” Same with Kobe Bryant. TWICE! But, you know, Phil gets you into his office, starts talking about rings and how you can still be a scoring champ and get the ring, and he burns that sage, and you start imagining the walls are breathing and you hear the voices of your dead ancestors, and ... uh, what were we talking about?
Are you sure that was sage?
No, I have my doubts.
Q4 is from Wes. “Marry, f*ck, kill: Anderson Varajao, James Michael McAdoo, Marreese Speights lol”
You don’t have a lot of quality control on these questions, do you?
Sorry, I didn’t have time to tell people we were doing this. Next time, it will be all top-notch Q’s.
Well, I kind of answered the question in real life. I “killed” Andy by waiving him, which broke everyone’s heart. I mean, the guy was running on fumes on the court, and we really needed a wing or small when Kevin Durant went down. But, he’s just a high-character guy. And you need that kind of glue guy off the court. You can’t just have wall-to-wall young knuckleheads like that Wizards team with Nick Young and JaVale McGee.
And I “married” Mac, cause I stuck with him through thick and thin, and gave him important playoff minutes. He’s another high-character guy, quick dunker, starting to hit that three. He just never quite got his minutes on our loaded team.
And good old Mo. I guess I effed with his head because I’d tell the press he won us this game or that, but I’d never give him a big role. He just could not defend the rim, or stay with the ball on pick-and-roll, and I just could not play him in the Finals. That hurt.
Q5. Okay, final question. Who is your favorite GSoM writer?
I appreciated all those articles on sports, justice, race, and gun control that Tamryn and Sami were writing. It’s a dangerous time, but also a time of great opportunity, and it’s important to address bigger society when it touches sports. GSoM also has some other pretty good writers on staff.
What about my stuff?
Oh, do you also write for them? I thought you were an intern.
Well, I ... never mind. Thanks, and maybe we can do this again?
Don’t count on it.
Oh well. In case Fake Steve Kerr changes his mind and we can do this again, leave questions for him in the comments for the next mailbag.