How Kerr Kept Dubs’ Winning Culture Through Losing Years originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The Warriors pushed the resume button of their dynasty in 2021-22 by defeating the Boston Celtics in six games to earn their fourth NBA championship in eight years.
But even as the franchise’s dynastic label faltered during two injury-packed seasons—a disappointment of 15 wins in 2019-20 and a play-in-tournament flop the following year—the Warriors culture has never faded.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr joined on Friday Andre Iguodala‘s Point Forward Podcast and established how he maintained a winning culture at Chase Center even as the team spent most nights in the losing column.
“We actually did the exact same thing. We still played music in practice, we still made fun of each other, we made fun of ourselves,” Kerr said. “Has made birthday videos, invited the kids, players’ kids to come in and shoot. That’s all authentic to who we are. And we kept doing that.
“And it mattered, especially if you lose, then the culture has to matter. That’s my feeling.”
When the 2019-20 trading deadline arrived, the Warriors had the worst record in the Western Conference at 12-40. Golden State had endured a 10-game loss streak from December to January, just one of five double-digit losing streaks for the team since the turn of the century.
Golden State brought D’Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans III to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Andrew Wiggins’ blockbuster trade. The Warriors also sent guards Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III to the Philadelphia 76ers for three second-round picks.
None of those players wanted to leave the bay.
“I think maybe the best compliment I got that year was that we traded like five men on the trade deadline, because we were struggling and we had to get under the load,” Kerr said. “You don’t want to be a taxpayer when you have the worst record in the league. We traded a bunch of guys.
“Honestly, most of them wanted to stay. It was such a great compliment to hear that from those guys. Here we were with the worst record in the league, but the guys loved the process of learning and growing and getting better …a really healthy environment.
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“That was, in a strange way, very satisfying. These guys have enjoyed a season where we had the worst record in the league, we must be doing something right.”
When Golden State stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were finally reunited on the field this spring, the winning culture was right where they left it. And Kerr deserves a lot of credit for that.