Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors are ready to welcome their old rival, and new point guard, Chris Paul. But he hasn’t forgotten how much he and the team used to dislike CP3.
"We've all hated him because we were competing, and he was so good. And now that's our guy, and we love him."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 2, 2023
Steve Kerr on "joking" with Chris Paul and their relationship. pic.twitter.com/SNTsJyaMWE
“We all hated him!” said Kerr, in an appearance on “NBA Today.” While Kerr wasn’t coaching yet when the Warriors first met Paul and the Clippers in an intense first-round series in 2014, he did face Paul as a Houston Rocket in two equally tense series in 2018 and 2019.
“One of the funny things about this league is that you compete against people,” Kerr told Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne. “Especially if you see them over and over again, like we did with Chris in Houston. And then all of a sudden, you’re teammates, or you’re coaching someone.”
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Warriors celebrated beating in Houston in 2019, after Kevin Durant went down with an injury in Game 5, “as if they had won the Western Conference for the first time,” even through it was only the second round. To be fair, they were playing the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference finals, so they really had clinched the West at that point.
Windhorst added that the excited Warriors chanted, “F—- Chris Paul!” as they headed to the visitors locker room in Houston. Four of those players - Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney - are still on the Warriors in 2023.
Kerr and Paul had their own dustup when Kerr joked to Paul about his traveling, and Paul delivered a fake laugh that launched a thousand memes.
Chris Paul fake laugh and smile withe Steve Kerr pic.twitter.com/Zh6BpiN7Ml— find a reaction (@findareaction) November 15, 2020
Kerr thought they were having fun. Paul did not.
Kerr compared the animosity with Paul to the way he felt about Indiana’s Reggie Miller. Not only did Kerr have to battle Miller in college, when Kerr was at Arizona and Miller was starring at UCLA, but they also squared off when Kerr played for the Chicago Bulls and Miller was on the Indiana Pacers.
“I used to hate Reggie. Oh man,” Kerr said. Miller has to be one of the few NBA players who was as annoying, for so many years, as Paul. But Kerr sees hope, based on his relationship with Miller now.
“Then we became broadcast partners, and he became a great friend,” he continued. “I feel like that’s kind of how it’s going to be with Chris. We’ve all hated him because we were competing, and he was so good. And now that’s our guy, and we love him.”
“We” may or may not include Draymond Green, who shared his thoughts about Paul on “The Pat Bev Podcast”.
“There’s no sugarcoating what has happened all these years, this is real life,” Draymond asserted. “I’ve publicly said that I didn’t like Chris before. I’m not just gonna be like, that changed now because he’s my teammate. No.”
Granted, Green has had plenty of success with teammates he didn’t like in the past, winning rings with current enemies Jordan Poole and Harrison Barnes. But it’s very different than Kerr’s take. Don’t expect Green to be fake laughing with CP3.
Paul took a more diplomatic route in talking about Green.
“I feel sorry for the other teams that have to play against us,” Paul said about Green. “He’s always been very vocal, as I am, and I’ve always thrived with guys like that.”
“Vocal” is a very polite way to describe Green’s on-court demeanor, and Paul’s as well. But Paul’s quotes are encouraging, as is one important fact about the new Warrior: CP3 almost never goes on podcasts.