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Steve Kerr before Game 4: Keep calm and his sense of humor

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr answers

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr answers a question during a press conference for the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. Photo Credit: AP / Paul Sancya

CLEVELAND - Steve Kerr's team was trailing 2-1 in the NBA Finals and by many accounts barely hanging on in the series, but you would never know it by the Warriors coach's attitude and disposition before Thursday night's Game 4.

Kerr has been here as a player and coach, down 2-1 in a seven-game series. And while it seems mostly everyone wants to coronate King LeBron James as the greatest player ever and the Cavaliers as champions, Kerr remained seemingly unfazed.

During his nearly 20-minute interview with the media before the game Thursday, Kerr said he was "angry." But he didn't show it. The first-year coach who won five titles as a player joked with reporters, expressed concern about one's health and complimented another's reading list.

Kerr also took a dig or two at the league and James, and saw no reason to recount tales of his past postseason successes to motivate his players.

"I think our guys have enough playoff experience, not only from the last couple of months, but the last two years where they've been in a lot of different situations," Kerr said. "We were in this exact spot in Memphis . They know how to respond and I'm confident they will. I didn't have to pull any old stories out of my bag."

Kerr always reflects on his experiences, though.

He played under Phil Jackson in Chicago and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, and learned from listening to them and watching how they dealt with situations and made adjustments.

Jackson, now the Knicks president, and Popovich have won a combined 16 championships as coaches. They're both known for being loose and not taking things too seriously. Kerr sounded a little Popovich-esque when he was asked what he would tell his players before the game.

"I'm going to say, 'Go get 'em, Tiger,' " Kerr said facetiously. "Go get 'em. We can do this. If you put your mind to it we can do anything we want in this world, guys. We can do this. Let's keep the faith. That's what I'm going to do."

But seriously, Steve.

"I have a feel for our team and also for what to say, what's important and what's not," he said.

Having a good sense of humor would have been useful for Kerr had he taken the Knicks' coaching job. But he spurned Jackson and the Knicks, who went a franchise-worst 17-65 under Derek Fisher, and guided the Warriors to 67 wins and their first NBA Finals appearance in 40 years.

Kerr continued having fun when he was asked his opinion that the NBA said James didn't foul Stephen Curry late in game when he slid under him and knocked the ball away. "It was the correct call," Kerr said sarcastically. "Slide tackling is perfectly legal. I totally agree.

"We're going to teach it. We're going to teach traveling too before next year because traveling is also legal. Is that news that traveling is allowed? Seriously, it's allowed."

James has gotten away with a few travels in this series, so Kerr knew exactly what he was saying. But Kerr also has praised James, who came in averaging 41 points, 12 rebounds and 8.3 assists in the Finals.

Kerr, a former television analyst, said he hasn't turned on the TV since getting to Cleveland. He's been criticized and second-guessed for not double-teaming James more to take the ball out of his hands and waiting until Game 3 to use David Lee.

"We've talked throughout the playoffs about the importance of keeping everything internal, not caring what anybody says or writes," Kerr said. "You're in the crosshairs when you're in the Finals. You're going to get criticized, I'm going to get criticized. I'm sure I have, although ignorance is bliss."


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