When sports fans and sports pundits look back on the Golden State Warriors dynasty in years to come, they will speak in awe of superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
And what else? They will also mention how important Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, among others, have been in playing important roles.
Naturally, head coach Steve Kerr will be applauded for what he’s accomplished. Already, he’s one of the best coaches in NBA history.
Here’s the fun part: Kerr, in his fifth season in charge, doesn’t take himself too seriously. But he takes the game very seriously. The same is true of team president of basketball operations Bob Myers (see below).
But Kerr’s joy of winning goes hand in hand with the communal joy of pursuing excellence as a group. Veteran assistant coaches Mike Brown and Ron Adams and other support staff have played vital roles, too, in pushing Kerr and presenting different ideas.
The Warriors’ fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals is the second-longest in NBA history. Only the Boston Celtics (1957-66) have made more consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. That said, you can’t mention that feat without admitting that co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have gotten more than a few things right.
And here’s another thing: Everyone must admit that the Warriors were lucky — very lucky — to have all-time great Jerry West on their executive board for six years.
West came on board at the perfect time. Curry was already there, but other building blocks were needed.
West’s input on player personnel decisions was superb. His peerless understanding of how the league operates and what it takes to win was priceless.
It was a riveting next chapter in the basketball legend’s career after great stints as a player and front-office savant for the Los Angeles Lakers. (And another brilliant stint with the Memphis Grizzlies as the catalyst for their rise earlier this century.)
An ode to West’s wisdom
Tim Kawakami penned a smart column looking back at West’s time with the Warriors as it was about to end in 2017. It’s a thoughtful piece that also sheds light on West’s view that Myers was the man to continue leading the franchise. The full article: https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/14/kawakami-jerry-wests-departure-for-the-clippers-is-a-loss-but-he-helped-change-the-warriors/
West joined the Los Angeles Clippers that year as a consultant, bringing gravitas and instant credibility to the front office.
Kawakami, now The Athletic Bay Area’s editor-in-chief, summed up West’s role in shaping the dynasty in these key passages:
“Maybe the Warriors would’ve drafted Klay Thompson in 2011 if West wasn’t there, but he identified Thompson right away and pushed so hard for him that he might’ve quit if they didn’t take Thompson.
“Maybe they would’ve still drafted Draymond Green in the second round of the 2012 draft if West wasn’t there to push for him, but he clearly was a big Draymond fan on that night.
“The Warriors probably were never that close to trading Thompson in a package for Kevin Love in 2014, but West absolutely was the leader of the opposition to that deal — along with Steve Kerr, by the way — and absolutely did threaten to quit if they made the trade. …”
There’s also another common thread through Golden State’s sustained excellence in the Steve Kerr era: Myers’ capable leadership.
Now the team’s president of basketball operations, Myers rose from assistant general manager in 2011 as a new hire to GM a year later. He’s helped assemble the team’s winning combinations with savvy and understated brilliance. For instance, Green was nabbed with the No. 35 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Indeed, team chemistry has factored into this quite well.
As a result, Myers knows what will work for the Golden State Warriors. And he sticks to his blueprint.
Myers ranks among best
California-based basketball analyst Bill Herenda, a former UMass Lowell player, considers Myers one of the best general managers/team executives of all time.
And he’s not the only one.
In fact, perhaps now’s the proper time to admit that he’s climbing close to, or is very near, the upper echelon of any legitimate best-of-the-best list.
“The Warriors style of play — unselfish, innovative and focused with force — is a direct reflection of Bob Myers,” Herenda told Talk Basket this week.
“Around an incredibly special core group that gets the ‘we over me’ mentality, a la Sinatra’s mellifluous intonation, Myers has continually tweaked the roster maintaining the absolute right balance and chemistry of talent, heart and grit.
“Myers has done it in a modest, ‘Aw shucks,’ fashion deflecting credit to the rest of the organization while demonstrating great respect for his peers in the NBA. Just as we’re still talking about Sinatra, 50 years from now and beyond people will still be talking about these Warriors and the architect that assembled them.”
Like West, Pat Riley, Jerry Krause, R.C. Buford and Red Auerbach must, of course, be near the top of any who’s-who list of top front-office executives in league history. (Others will make strong arguments for Pat Williams, Joe Dumars, Wayne Embry, Jerry Colangelo and others.)
The future looks bright
Myers is still young, just 44. He got an early start in the Golden State Warriors’ front office after.
Therefore, there’s plenty more he can still achieve as a team executive.
Whatever the Warriors achieve under Myers’ watch, it won’t be a boring journey. Passion is the name of their game.
In an April interview, Myers offered some insights into how he views his team, telling the Mercury News, “We certainly are not apathetic. That’s when you get scared — when apathy creeps in and you don’t care.
“Caring too much, that can bite you sometimes. But I’d much rather have a group of people that go over the line because they’re too passionate over them not being interested in the outcome. Sure, you have to channel it. You have to be smart about it. But sometimes there’s a healthy emotion that tips over, and that’s OK.”