Kerr and Cousins ap­pre­ci­ate other’s com­pet­i­tive­ness

The Tribune (SLO) - - Sports - BY MARK ME­D­INA


Steve Kerr charged to the of­fi­cial at half­court. He threw out his right arm. He yelled out a string of ex­ple­tives.

The Warriors coach showed so much anger over Dray­mond Green get­ting called for a tech­ni­cal foul that as­sis­tant coach Mike Brown needed to re­strain Kerr at half­court.

This episode hap­pened in a for­get­table Warriors’ over­time loss two sea­sons ago against the Sacra­mento Kings. The wit­nesses did not for­get, though. The mo­ment not only showed that the nor­mally thought­ful and calm Kerr has a tem­per and com­pet­i­tive streak he can un­leash at any mo­ment. Then with the Sacra­mento Kings, DeMar­cus Cousins saw an­other side of his fu­ture head coach.

“The ref kicks me out, and I turn around and I lock eyes with DeMar­cus,” Kerr re­called with a laugh. “And he’s giv­ing me a look.”

Nearly 2 years later, the Warriors ac­quired Cousins with their tax­payer mi­dlevel ex­cep­tion worth $5.3 mil­lion. So on the first day of train­ing camp, Kerr locked eyes with Cousins again.

“You could re­late, right?” Kerr re­called say- ing, mind­ful that Cousins has col­lected 118 tech­ni­cals through his eightyear NBA ca­reer with Sacra­mento (2010-2017) and New Or­leans (201718).

“I could ab­so­lutely re­late,” Cousins said, ac­cord­ing to Kerr. Af­ter prac­tice on Thurs­day, Cousins ex­plained why.

“It just shows he’s out there bat­tling for his play­ers. His emo­tions are in the game, which is great. In the past, I’ve played for coaches that….” Cousins said be­fore trail­ing off. “I won’t even speak on that point. It’s good to see his emo­tions are in the game.”

The Warriors may face plenty of ques­tions on how the Warriors in­te­grate Cousins af­ter spend­ing nearly the last year re­hab­bing his left Achilles ten­don. Those will likely con­tinue when Cousins pos­si­bly re­turns on Jan. 18 against the Clip­pers in Los An­ge­les. The early re­turns on Cousins’ dy­namic with Kerr, how­ever, ap­pear pos­i­tive.

One of the rea­sons: Kerr said he un­der­stands Cousins’ emo­tional out­bursts. Af­ter all, Kerr col­lected seven tech­ni­cals last sea­son. He has coached an­other emo­tional player in Dray­mond Green, who has ac­cu­mu­lated 67 tech­ni­cals through seven NBA sea­sons and had 15 last sea­son. Kevin Du­rant trailed shortly be­hind Green last sea­son with 14 tech­ni­cals.

“Demar­cus knows I have a tem­per and a fuse, and so does Dray­mond,” Kerr said. “The three of us all have the abil­ity to snap at times. That’s be­cause we’re all com­pet­i­tive. We want to win. We want to suc­ceed. We’ve got to fig­ure out the best way to all co­ex­ist and chan­nel all that en­ergy and emo­tion in the right di­rec­tion.”

Not only has Kerr de­vel­oped an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Cousins’ emo­tional in­ten­sity. Kerr has had em­pa­thy for Cousins amid his nearly year-long ef­fort with re­hab­bing his left Achilles ten­don af­ter in­jur­ing it on Jan. 26, 2018 with the New Or­leans Pel­i­cans.

“I have a lot of com­pas­sion for him just be­cause of all he’s been through,” Kerr said. “When you think about when the in­jury hap­pened, he was get­ting ready to sign a near-max con­tract. Whether it was with New Or­leans or some­one else, that’s a life-chang­ing amount of money, not to men­tion the amount of grat­i­fi­ca­tion that comes from be­ing one of the best play­ers in the world and an All-Star right in his prime.”


Warriors cen­ter DeMar­cus Cousins, shown in De­cem­ber, will start im­me­di­ately for coach Steve Kerr when the All-Star cen­ter makes his long-awaited Warriors de­but in about a week fol­low­ing his lengthy re­cov­ery from surgery on a torn left Achilles ten­don. Cousins has tar­geted a game Jan. 18 at the Clip­pers as his re­turn date.

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