Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Even as the defending champions and prohibitive favorites to repeat, the Golden State Warriors have not been immune to burnout.
An uncharacteristic 4-3 stretch over the past two weeks, including blowout losses to the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, make quite clear that they’re just as ready for the All-Star break as everybody else.
That’s why Warriors coach Steve Kerr decided to freshen things up this week by taking a back seat and allowing his players to take over the clipboard in Monday’s 129-83 blowout win over the Phoenix Suns.
As with anything relating to the Warriors, Monday’s coaching experiment garnered much attention on social media. Suns players Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels took exception to what they saw as disrespect on the part of Golden State. But the Warriors saw immense value in the idea.
“Everybody just loves to hate on the Warriors,” Kevin Durant told Bleacher Report at Wednesday morning’s shootaround in preparation for their game against the Portland Trail Blazers. “Whatever we do, they don’t want to just say they hate us, so they’re going to make excuses up on why they don’t like us or why it was disrespectful. That’s what rubbed me the wrong way, because who gives a s–t? Who cares? The product was on the court, the coach was humble enough, and he doesn’t have an ego to think he has to do everything on his own. And we know as players that we can’t survive without a great coaching staff. It was an amazing exercise, I thought.”
Kerr didn’t explicitly tell the players to coach themselves, but the play-calling responsibilities, at least for one night, fell on the ones running the plays.
“He didn’t say ‘We’re coaching,'” Durant said. “He just said, ‘In timeouts, if you guys want to run some plays, we’re g