by Jason Stewart

Jason Stewart can be reached through his website at www.ProUniversity.net or by email at Coach@ProUniversity.net

“Strength in Numbers”

This is the theme for the NBA’s World Champion Golden State Warriors. If you are a fan of the NBA, you were not surprised by the talent on the 2014-15 team. However, you may have been surprised that a “rookie” head coach could help this highly talented team do something that the franchise hadn’t done in 35 years!

Approximately 12 months ago, the Golden State Warriors were trying to select a head coach. They elected to offer San Diego local Steve Kerr the job of taking their team to the next level. Steve then called his coaching buddies to offer them a chance to help him lead.

When Kerr made his decisions as to who to call to be on his staff, he relied on relationships and knowledge of the game. However, some of his choices had to be unexpected from most people in the league. Steve called some long-term veteran coaches like Alvin Gentry and Ron Adams, but he also approached several guys who never coached in the NBA. He called former University of Arizona basketball great Luke Walton and San Diego’s Torrey Pines High School varsity assistant Kelly Peters. He rallied Jarron Collins, who played in the league for a long time but never coached. Former U of A teammate Bruce Fraser, who did have a short coaching stint in the NBA years ago, was also called.

It was clear to see that Steve went with people he trusted. He wanted quality people who he had been knowing from years past.

There is an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Steve chose to take friends with him on his journey and it took him and his team very far. He seemingly applied this principle from the top to the bottom. With the Warriors roster being almost identical to the year before, they kept the team together and they went all the way to the championship!

At the end, he pulled a classic humble Steve Kerr move and gave credit to his staff, players and former coaches including the University of Arizona Hall of Fame Coach Lute Olson. You don’t hear too many NBA coaches thanking their former college coach in a championship acceptance speech.

Many people undervalue the relationships that go into championships. Steve didn’t.

Recently, one of my assistant coaches (Mike Quain) at San Dieguito Academy lead his son’s youth basketball team to a championship. I happen to know a lot of the kids on that team. All of them have a great relationship with each other and the coaching staff.

This “Eight Kings” team had a championship game against a Phoenix team that had beaten them the day before by 20 points! There was no one in the gym that thought the Eight Kings team was going to be 20 points better the next day, except the Kings themselves. I saw them the day that they lost. They were fired up to have a rematch against the team from Arizona. One Kings’ player was quoted as saying on the night the they lost, “they drove all the way from Arizona just to lose.” Talk about confidence.

The Kings competed like champions and won the next day. When I heard the story, I was instantly reminded of the African proverb I shared earlier. These boys learned the lesson of how to
win together.

Life Application:
It is so surprising to me how many “winners” are extremely generous. They practice sharing resources and winning experience. I think this speaks to the fact that inclusion takes us all much farther than we could have ever gone alone.