The Mercury News
Q&A: Kerr on his reading habits, social media, Dubs’ dynasty
OAKLAND >> There’s no need for Steve Kerr to stick to sports. The Warriors coach talks almost every day about the state of team, its quest to win a fourth NBA title in five years and everything pertaining to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.
So no need to travel down that familiar road. Instead, Kerr sat down recently with Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group to talk about his reading habits, the best and worst of social technology, what he thinks of today’s political discourse and more.
And sure, he talked a little about basketball, too.
Which book are you reading these days?
Kerr: “I just picked up a book by David Epstein. I haven’t started it yet. I just finished Tom Verducci’s book on the Cubs. That was great. A friend of mine recommended the Epstein book (Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World). It’s about being in a world of specialization and how important it is to be multiskilled. Bill Simmons just did a podcast on it, so I’m anxious to read it. I heard from multiple people it’s really good. I think it’s a book about social commentary, which I like. I like reading Malcolm Gladwell’s stuff. So I think it’s something like that. But I don’t know. I’m just starting it.”
Engaging Warriors coach Steve Kerr chats with Ayesha Curry as she holds her son Canon after a game this season against the Clippers at Oracle Arena. Kerr says the “younger generation is our hope.”
“I think just it’s really interesting how people live, how people succeed and how society evolves and changes. Coaching changes. Being an athlete has changed. Everything is constantly moving. Maybe for the better and maybe for the worst. It’s fun to read why. Gladwell is one of my favorite authors because he explains what is the why. ‘The Tipping Point’ is one of those books. I love that book. Why do things happen the way they do? He’s really interesting. So I’m anxious to read the Epstein book.”
“Michael Lewis spoke to the team. Oh, Gladwell came to our game in Atlanta. But Michael Lewis spoke to our team last year and came to our facility. He spoke to the group about his creative process. He writes a book. It’s really interesting.”
“No matter what you do, you develop habits and you have to be disciplined. You have to have a plan and you have to execute your plan. You have to know how to work with people. It’s fun to hear how other people go about their business and how they accomplish what they accomplish. Really in my mind, no matter what you talk about, it’s all the same. It’s hard work, having a vision and knowing how to work with others. No matter what you’re doing. If it’s running a business or running a basketball team, it’s still collaboration, humility, confidence and communication. All of those things matter. Obviously, you have to have talent. You can’t write a good book unless you’re a good writer. You can’t play in the NBA unless you’re a good basketball player. So you have to know what you’re doing. You have to have talent and a sense of what you’re doing and why. If you have all of that, the building blocks are the same as any.”
“’Moneyball’ was great. I liked the one about the financial crisis (“The Big Short.”) He has a really interesting way of telling a story. It’s very entertaining and informative. That’s what the best writers do, in my mind. The best books, you’re learning. But the style of writing captures your attention, imagination and the picture. He’s a really talented writer. I like that style of writing and I like that genre. It’s nonfiction. But it’s weaved into great storytelling. Lewis and Gladwell really stood out for me.” “Is it better or worse, in what manner? In anything?”
“It’s worse for politics and it’s worse for being in the public eye and it’s worse for being
an athlete. There’s so much judgment. People for whatever reason are unafraid to hide behind their keyboard and write things they would never say to another human being. The level of vitriol is really harmful to society. You’re seeing it in politics to the point now where it’s crossed the line and people aren’t afraid to say it. It started with writing something from the comfort of your alias on your Twitter account. It’s really ugly. There’s a lack of decency that is really damaging our country, I think.
Human beings always have bad, negative feelings toward each other. That is the way it is. Those feelings, in my mind anyway, usually went unexpressed. They were thoughts. Now those thoughts are expressed in a public platform. So the divide we have in our country right now is so dramatic politically. I think a lot of it has to do with social media.”
“I read the news. I follow certain sites on Twitter and read certain articles and certain authors. Even on game days, I’ll read the stories on Twitter and certain sites. There’s a site called the “The Week” that I like. It has interesting political commentary. So I’m always reading stuff because it interests me.”
“It was hilarious (laughs). I love all of that stuff. A couple of years ago, we had Brandon Armstrong come to training camp. He’s the one that started this whole craze of imitating NBA players. He came in and actually visited us during camp. He impersonated our players in front of our players. Guys were howling with laughter. He did an impersonation of me, too, smashing a clipboard. That’s the thing. There’s a lot of great stuff on social media. People are funny. People are so creative. But people have crossed the line now. It’s starting with the president. It’s to the point now it’s Orwellian stuff like doctoring the video of (Nancy) Pelosi. People doctored the video. I remembered they doctored a video, they meaning whoknows-who, but there was a scene of the Seahawks celebrating in their locker and somebody doctored a burning American flag. Then there were millions of hits on it.
Misinformation, purposeful misinformation and lies combined with modern technology is a really terrifying force. It’s further dividing our country. It’s scary. I read in the next year or so there is technology where you can take somebody’s speech, take some video footage of somebody, imitate their voice and get the mouth movements right and have them say anything. That goes out to millions of people that don’t know any better. All of a sudden, they are ready to kill this person because of the things they are allegedly saying. So it literally is ‘1984.’ It’s propaganda. It’s terrifying.”
“I think the younger generation is our hope. They’re getting more people to vote. My movement is the gun control and gun safety measures. Things are finally starting to change in that area. Over 90 percent of Americans want universal background checks. Yet the leaders in Congress have votes that do not reflect the will of the American people. So the only way that can change is if you vote them out. So I’m encouraged by some of the gun control groups and gun safety groups like the Brady Campaign, the Sandy Hook Promise, March for Our Lives, the Giffords’ group. What is happening is, especially for March for Our Lives, there is a group of young people fed up with all of these school shootings. They are setting up these chapters all over the country. What each chapter is trying to do is get people to vote.
The reason we don’t have sensible gun laws is the NRA has always been really powerful and has always funded elections at the grassroots level. Now these groups that I’m talking about are actually starting to fund elections themselves. So as the money evens out and influence evens out, these younger generations are going to impose the will of the people. The vast majority of people don’t think AR-15’s should be allowed in the hands of a citizen. Or high-capacity magazines. They want background checks, as I mentioned. So the hope lies in people voting in good conscience for the protection and safety and each other and not some crazed, fringe viewpoint that somehow our freedom is tied to our right an AR-15.”
“I only saw four Finals appearances. Only four, but not five. We’ve exceeded expectations (laughs). No, I knew this was a potentially great team. I thought we could compete for a championship. But I had no idea how good Draymond Green was. When I became the coach, I slotted David Lee in as a starter. I remember sitting at my desk upstairs writing on the dry erase wall in my office, I wrote down what I thought would be the rotation. I slotted Draymond Green in for 10 minutes a game because that is what he played the previous year (Green averaged 21.9 minutes in 2013-14 and then 31.5 minutes in 201415). I had no idea he was this good. For him to develop was really the key.
I knew how good Steph and Klay were. I knew how good Andre was. But maybe I didn’t appreciate Andre as much as I do now. But I knew he was damn good. I already thought this was a playoff team, and we can get better. Where the improvement needed to happen was on the offensive side. The defensive side was great. They just needed the maturity that comes with being together, the continuity and sharing the ball. I remember thinking we can be really good and can compete with anybody. But I couldn’t have imagined this.”