Culture

Steph Curry, Steve Kerr assess how culture brought Warriors back to NBA Finals

The Warriors are on the verge of erasing two seasons of disappointment and frustration with their fourth NBA title in the last eight years.

If Golden State can beat the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals, the Warriors would become the second team in the history of the four major men’s American professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) to go from champions to owning the worst record and back to hoisting the championship trophy again in a span of five years.

Warriors star Steph Curry and coach Steve Kerr credit getting the dynasty back on the rails to the franchise’s culture.

“What culture means to me is what the players feel when they enter the building every day,” Kerr said Monday. “What do they experience? What’s the vibe in the building? Whatever that is, that’s the culture.”

Golden State won a league-worst 15 games in 2019-20 as it dealt with Kevin Durant leaving in free agency and injuries to Curry and Klay Thompson. Although the wins weren’t there, the culture remained.

“We were able to sustain that culture through that season two years ago when we had the worst record of the league by just staying true to our process,” Kerr said. “We want our players to come in, put in the work, enjoy themselves an understand this is a place — this is their opportunity to get better and make the most of their talent.”

Curry got a bit more specific pinpointing a stretch that best showed the Warriors’ culture. Last season, Golden State was 24-28 and in 10th place in the Western Conference with 20 games remaining, only to find its winning formula again and win 15 of its last 20 games. Although the campaign ended with back-to-back losses in the NBA Play-In Tournament, that run helped the Warriors recoup their confidence on the floor.

“You could see that fire and competitive level come back,” Curry said of the 15-5 stretch. “And that carried over into this year. That helped us have that belief and that vision that we could be back here on this [NBA Finals] stage. I don’t think any of us thought we were winning a championship last year. But every game mattered down the stretch [last season] because we wanted to re-assert ourselves as a dominant, capable championship-type team.”

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The emergence of Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins and the return of Klay Thompson certainly guided Golden State back to its championship level this season. But leading the way was the team’s culture, which begins and ends with Curry.

“I think Steph embodies everything that we believe in,” Kerr said. “All the values ​​that we believe in. Steph’s presence from the very beginning allowed that culture to blossom.”

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