National Basketball Association

Steve Kerr's comments about Warriors' 2018-19 season draw Kevin Durant's attention

March 23

Steve Kerr is not a happy camper.

His frustration isn't with the Golden State Warriors losing six of their past nine games ⁠— though that probably doesn't help ⁠— but rather, the source of Kerr's ire comes from the media.

It all started Monday, when Drew Shiller, a Warriors reporter, shared a tweet regarding Kerr's recent appearance on the "Real Ones with Raja & Logan" podcast.

Kevin Durant, who played for Kerr from 2016 to 2019 and won two rings in that span before joining the Brooklyn Nets, responded to Shiller's tweet.

Following Golden State's 111-103 loss Saturday at the Memphis Grizzlies, Kerr opened his postgame news conference with an admonition of Shiller's interpretation of what was said on the podcast.

An angry Kerr, who never mentioned Durant by name during the podcast segment, said Shiller's tweet lacked appropriate context.

"That is the furthest thing from the truth. It was a terribly unfair shot. Completely taking something out of context to the point where people are going to read it and think that that was my quote. ... To take that comment and put it into a tweet and send it out into the universe was so irresponsible and damaging. And I’m angry."

Kerr said that in 2018-19, which happened to be Durant's final season in Golden State, two season-ending injuries in the NBA Finals (to Durant and Klay Thompson) were the main drivers of stress.

The Warriors also lost DeMarcus Cousins for a spell during that playoff run, a season that Kerr called "just an absolute bear."

The following season, Kerr's Durant-less Warriors went 15-50, but the coach found that season "more enjoyable" because the young players on the squad were "eager to learn."

After Kerr called out Shiller, who writes for NBC Sports Bay Area and works as a game analyst for Golden State's G-League affiliate, Shiller then clarified and apologized for the incident in a subsequent tweet.

To put everything on the table, here is the transcription of what Kerr said, along with an audio snippet from the podcast.

"I think every year is different. And so it's not as clear-cut as that. I will tell you, the first four years of our run, the coaching was way more fun. Just because we were joyful, and everything was really simple and no agendas. And then that last year, things kind of went haywire. And so, even though we went to the Finals, it was difficult. I enjoyed last season ⁠— when we had the worst record in the league ⁠— more than I enjoyed that last season when we went to the Finals because we had young guys last year who were trying every day, working hard. We had a great energy, great spirit, great camaraderie.

"And losing sucked, but what you want is a good vibe. You want to look forward to going to the gym every day and seeing everybody. And that last year was tough. It really was tough ⁠— the last year when we lost to Toronto in the Finals. There was a lot going on, some that you know about and some that you don't, and that was very difficult. So it's hard. Every year is unique, and you try to enjoy each one for what it is."

All caught up? Good!

The question is: Was Shiller truly off the mark with his interpretation of what Kerr said?

Skip Bayless of "Undisputed" wasn't so sure.

"I'm not completely buying 'out of context' because his point was still his point. It was a bear of a year, but underlying the injuries was the conflict with Kevin and Draymond [Green] and Kevin and Steph [Curry]."

The conflict Bayless is referring to between Green and Durant occurred in November 2018 in an on-court exchange between the players that eventually resulted in the Warriors' suspending Green for one game.

The issue of Durant's impending free agency and the spat with Green became major clouds hanging over the Warriors' season, though Kerr didn't directly reference that in his podcast interview. 

On "First Things First," Nick Wright defended Shiller's interpretation and encouraged viewers to listen to the full audio.

"I am surprised that [Kerr] was surprised there was blowback to it. Maybe he didn't think Durant would see it. Spoiler alert, Mr. Kerr: Kevin Durant sees it all. He's always very online. ... I think Kerr's indignation ... is a little misplaced, especially if you listen to the audio and hear how he describes that season compared to the season that just finished."

Having spent years as a broadcaster and commentator before joining the NBA executive and then coaching ranks, Kerr is no media novice.

But it's looking like the message the media received from his comments wasn't exactly the message he intended to send.

Or maybe Kerr said exactly what he meant to say.

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