Despite the fact that they were very bad (15-50), Warriors coach Steve Kerr says that it was more enjoyable to coach the 2019-20 team than it was to coach the (far better) 2018-19 squad that went 57-25 and made it all the way to the NBA Finals.
Kerr said as much while speaking to Logan Murdock and Raja Bell on The Ringer’s “Real Ones” podcast, with that comment coming in the context of him explaining that the 2018-19 year was the outlier season in terms of enjoyability during GS’s dynasty run.
“The first four years of our run — the coaching was way more fun,” Kerr said, as transcribed by NBC Sports. “We were joyful and everything was really simple and no agendas. And then that last year, things kind of went haywire. 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. We had young guys last year who were trying every day, working hard. We had a great energy, great spirit, great camaraderie. 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. That last year was tough — when we lost to [the] Toronto [Raptors] in the Finals.
“There was a lot going on, some that you know about and some that you don’t. That was very difficult.”
Note that 2018-19 was the last year in which Kevin Durant was playing for Golden State. And note that that was the framing that Durant clearly saw, as evidenced by his response to this tweet:
Kerr didn’t mention KD by name, but Durant did reply pretty quickly with a vague response open to interpretation (though it’s probable that he sees things differently than Kerr). Whether or not Durant is responding to the actual podcast or the quote in the tweet is also open to interpretation, but given that there’s no link in the tweet it’s probable it was a response to the quote:
While Kerr himself points out the obvious by saying that there’s some things fans don’t know about, the most visible sign of internal strife to play out in public came early in that season after Durant and Draymond Green got into a verbal altercation following an overtime loss to the Clippers. In an appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Durant said that he and Green’s situation played a part in him leaving the Bay Area (he signed with the Nets after that season, but you knew that). Green also gave a lengthy response about his relationship with Durant this past April. You can read that here because his candid response is too long to pull.
Kerr later addressed the comments he made on the podcast that Durant responded to and said they were taken “out of context.” He went on to say that he was unhappy about the way they were framed, and that the quote tweeted out wasn’t representative of what he meant. Instead he mentioned injuries to the team’s stars during the ‘18-19 season, and the stress of the title run. He said his comments had nothing to do with Durant, and his voice tone made it obvious that he was genuinely upset.
Durant’s run with the Warriors ended with him tearing his Achilles in the league Finals. He signed with Brooklyn, though he didn’t make his debut until more than a year later due to that same injury.